The second round of The Players Championship takes place on Friday and after a low scoring opening day of the tournament the halfway cut which falls at the end of the day is likely to be under par which is a rarity for TPC Sawgrass.
That means that those players who didn’t get off to the start they wanted on Thursday will need a big day on Friday while those who played well in round one will be looking to keep themselves in a favourable position.
Round 1 Recap
It was a really good opening day both from a golf perspective and also a betting one. Six men lead the tournament overnight but we are pleased to be on one of those players outright in Patrick Cantlay while one of our first round leader picks is also there with Alex Noren landing for us at 66/1.
World number one Dustin Johnson, Chesson Hadley, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar are the other four men on six under starting out on round two. Sergio Garcia, Steve Stricker and the defending champion Si Woo Kim are a shot back on five under while elsewhere big names struggled with Tiger Woods level par, Rickie Fowler +2, Jordan Spieth +3 and Phil Mickelson +7.
As well as landing a share of the first round leader we also picked up a three ball winner when Si Woo Kim proved too good for Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer. Unfortunately Billy Horschel’s -4 wasn’t good enough to stay with Matt Kuchar while Francesco Molinari was a shot worse than Martin Laird.
Second Round Leader
Bet365 have priced up a second round leader market so it would be wrong not to indulge ourselves in it. In fairness there are a number of players who could have a say in leading at halfway with six leaders going into the second round and another 20 players within two shots of the lead.
We saw on the opening day that the greens really firmed up as the day went on and while scoring was fine in the afternoon on day one I can’t believe the pin positions will be as friendly on Friday so it might be worth trying to take advantage of someone out early who can have slightly more receptive greens.
Chesson Hadley could be considered a big runner at 12/1 given that he holds the lead and is out in the second group of the day but he had three bogeys on his round on the first day and he won’t be making nine birdies on Friday. Instead I’m going to take a punt on someone a shot back who looks ideally suited to this course.
In fairness I was going to take Andrew Landry to win the tournament until he pulled out of the Wells Fargo with illness last week but we can assume he is over that and I fancy we’ll see a good second day out of him. If this course toughens up he should be fine. He has gone well in a US Open before and there are few tougher tests than that.
He hit 15 of the 18 greens in regulation on Thursday and 12 of the 14 fairways around here. If he repeats that on Friday, and his record this season suggests he will, then the recent Texas Open champion should be right there at stumps. He has second rounds of 64 at the RSM Classic this season and a 65 at the CareerBuilder. He can go low on Friday and if he does it here 33/1 he leads overnight is too big.
Friday 3 Balls
The players are out in the same groups that they were out in for round one which means we will see Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson out again while the pick of the afternoon groups sees Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth partnering each other. There are plenty of other decent groups around them too and I like three of them for betting purposes.
Chesson Hadley/Matt Fitzpatrick/Bill Haas
Match tees off at 12.21 BST
Chesson Hadley shot a wonderful round of golf on Thursday and his six under total was six better than Matthew Fitzpatrick and eight better than Bill Haas and I expect him to build on his advantage on Friday.
I don’t see Hadley shooting six under or anything like that but reading between the lines I don’t think Fitzpatrick is completely happy with his game and if he isn’t hit it spot on then he could be found out on what I expect to be a tougher course on Friday. Bill Haas is in poor form this season and his record here is largely average. You have to be playing well to score around here and only one of these three are. That is Hadley and he carries my money here.
Si Woo Kim/Adam Scott/Martin Kaymer
Match tees off at 18.41 BST
My three ball winner on the opening day was Si Woo Kim and I’m going to take him again when he goes out alongside Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer. Kim beat Scott by two on Thursday and Kaymer by four so he has a bit in hand.
When you think at one stage after 14 holes the defending champion was seven under par then he might even have more of an advantage than it looks on the scorecard. If he suffers no hangover from a poor finish on Thursday I expect him to kick on and see off his playing partners again on Friday. Scott and Kaymer were not as strong off the tee as they wanted. The only weakness of Kim’s came with the putter but generally when he has a stinker with the short stick he has a blinder in the next round. If he has that here he’ll beat these two again.
Alex Noren/Keith Mitchell/Russell Knox
Match tees off at 19.14 BST
Alex Noren is another player who holds a share of the lead and after he landed me some dosh on the opening day in one market I’ll take him in another here. That is the three ball with Keith Mitchell and Russell Knox whom he beat by one and eight respectively on Thursday.
In fairness I think this is effectively a two ball with the way Knox is playing right now so I have this between Mitchell and Noren. If the course was going to be the same then there could be value on Mitchell but I expect to see a much tougher test on Friday and it is Noren who I expect to prevail in those conditions. He’s tough as teak and if his long game isn’t spot on his scrambling can save him. At odds against I think he’s a good bet late on in round two.
As I mentioned up above I was fully intending to take Andrew Landry to win this tournament until he pulled out last week. I’ve already annoyingly missed out on one of his wins this season which was a kick in the nuts having backed him for a number of events and watched him lose a playoff with my money on him. I’ve backed him so much that missing out on a second win would hurt just as much. The fact he is still 80/1 means I can cover him for the remainder of this week especially having banked some profit for the tournament already with the Noren pick on Thursday.
Back S-W.Kim to beat A.Scott & M.Kaymer for a 3/10 stake at 2.70 with 888sport
Back A.Landry Second Round Leader (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Skybet (1/4 1-4)
Back A.Landry to win The Players Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Skybet (1/4 1-5)
WON – Back C.Hadley to beat M.Fitzpatrick & B.Haas for a 3/10 stake at 2.38 with Skybet
WON – Back A.Noren to beat K.Mitchell & R.Knox for a 4/10 stake at 2.05 with Bet365