The opening round of The Players Championship sees the field heading out onto the Championship Course at TPC Sawgrass in competitive action for the first time this week on Thursday, each looking to secure a good start to the tournament.
History will be made on Thursday as golf fans have the chance to watch every shot of the tournament, as the PGA Tour opens its doors to gamblers who want to keep up with everything that is going on.
First Round Leader
As ever when a tournament of this stature comes along the first market I look at is the first round leader one in the hope of banking some cash on day one. The first thing to look at is the weather which actually isn’t going to change a whole lot. It gets warmer as the day goes on so there might be a bit more moisture in the morning for the early starters. That’s where I’m placing my cash and I’ll plump for a couple of small bets at big prices.
Scottie Scheffler is no stranger to pinging the lids this season. In 10 events this term he has shot 70 or less in eight of his first rounds with the two that didn’t fit this bill being in Riviera which is tough and Mexico that needs some adjusting to. Scheffler hits the ball pretty well and has no weak club in the bag. His flaky golf comes later in the week but I think he’ll go well on Thursday. Lucas Glover is another ideal fit for this course and he has had early success here before having shot a 65 in the opening round. He posted 68 a couple of years ago and he’s out in the second group onto the course here. If he can hole some putts we know his long game will give him a chance of posting a score.
Thursday 3 Balls
The field goes out in three balls for the opening round and one of the beauties about this tournament is that the groups get hand-picked by the Tour to ensure there are plenty of entertaining ones for TV and spectators alike. They go out in two waves to keep the action moving along nicely.
The pick of the morning groups is the one between Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and the former winner here Rickie Fowler which goes out at 12.26 GMT. 11 minutes earlier the three ball of Webb Simpson, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson go out onto the course. The afternoon session is headlined by Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka. They are out at 17.51 GMT while 11 minutes before them Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Xander Schauffele take to the course. There are plenty of other groups to enjoy too.
Russell Henley/JJ Spaun/Denny McCarthy
Match tees off at 11.40 GMT
The first group onto the golf course from the tenth tee is the one featuring the three American players Russell Henley, JJ Spaun and Denny McCarthy in a match where I expect experience to play its part and see the first named Henley to shoot the lowest score.
This is only the second spin around here for McCarthy and the third for Spaun. The latter has yet to see the weekend which can’t be a positive. Henley is something of a veteran here and while you would have to suggest his record is modest for someone of his profile, we are only needing him to beat two inexperienced foes here. Henley hits a clean ball and we all know his putting prowess and combine that together and he should win this three ball.
Emiliano Grillo/Matt Fitzpatrick/Roger Sloan
Match tees off at 18.35 GMT
The other bet I like on the opening day of the tournament comes from the penultimate group out onto the golf course as Emiliano Grillo, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Roger Sloan begin their journey for what would be the biggest title of their career by far.
Sloan is a debutant in this event which is an immediate swerve for me which leaves the other two. This is the fifth time Fitzpatrick will have played the event but in 12 rounds he has only broken 70 once which is a pretty indifferent record it has to be said. Grillo on the other hand has scored much better here and he’ll enjoy the surroundings having won the Web.com Tour Finals on another course on this complex earlier in his career. The Argentine has shown signs of hitting the ball better in recent times and that can lead him to a bit of a surprise win in this group.
VOID – Back S.Scheffler First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-7)
VOID – Back L.Glover First Round Leader (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-7)
Back them here:
Back R.Henley to beat JJ.Spaun & D.McCarthy for a 3/10 stake at 2.30 with 888sport
Back E.Grillo to beat M.Fitzpatrick & R.Sloan for a 3/10 stake at 3.00 with William Hill
Back him here: