10 MAR 2021 - WALK IT IN
Walking it Back:
There was a little good and mostly bad coming from the No Laying Up and Walk It In crews at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. Let’s walk that back and then get to our preview of THE PLAYERS!
TC the Draft King increased his season lead a bit last week by hitting a juicy top 10 bet on Megan Khang in the LPGA Drive On Championship at +550. That was his only win of the week as he missed on three other plays on the ladies and a Will Zalatoris Top 5 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Soly hitched his wagon to Matthew Fitzpatrick and although his win bet didn’t pan out, he did squeak out a top 10 winner thanks to a few bogeys on 18 from other golfers down the stretch. Soly was also on Zalatoris with TC, but played more conservative with a top 20 and it paid off for him. Adam Long top 40 and Marc Leishman top 20 bets did NOT pay off for him, however.
Our guy Neil is trying to remain positive despite early season struggles and it’s very commendable. At the Arnold Palmer Invitational he managed one win on Fitzpatrick to finish in the top 10, but lost all of his other plays - Leishman top 20, Knox top 20, Casey top 5 and Reed to win. The beluga will breach, we think!
Bringing it up the rear are DJ and Big Randy, who both went 0-5 last week. Randy’s new found “institutional knowledge” of the LPGA Tour didn’t help him win bets as he missed a matchup parlay, Lexi Thompson to win and In Gee Chun group winner at the Drive On Championship. Francesco Molinari didn’t show up for him on the men’s side either and Lee Westwood was the top Englishman, NOT Paul Casey. DJ tried to bring Rickie Fowler back to life, but that didn’t go as planned and neither did his other bets. He lost a PGA and LPGA matchup parlay, Fitzpatrick top 5 and Tyrell Hatton to win.
For the Walk It In guys, Jeff squeaked out a positive week and it would have been better if he had more confidence in his guy Corey Conners! Mark had a Neil-esque week, losing almost everything he bet on, but man-O-man could it have been better with a little luck. Hatton and Lanto Griffin BOTH bogeyed their 72nd hole and finished T21 to lose the top 20 bets and Hovland over DeChambeau looked great after Friday and then, welp.
We now turn our attention to TPC Sawgrass and THE PLAYERS, one year to the week since COVID-19 forced a cancellation of this beautiful tournament after one round. As expected, almost every top player in the world is in this field and there are a lot of plays on our cards!
If you’re going to putt for dough it helps when you’ve given yourself more putts inside the leather than double breakers so where are the guys looking this week on their approach? Mark goes first for THE PLAYERS, being furthest from the hole last week.
Mark: If my approach has sounded similar the last three weeks, that’s because The Concession, Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass are all so similar in setup for the most part - at or longer than 7,200 yards with narrow fairways, longer rough and small Bermuda greens. I’ll be looking at approach/GIR stats as well as Bermuda-specific putting. Driving accuracy seems to be important when looking at the history here as well.
Jeff: The Florida swing hits the crescendo with the visit to TPC Sawgrass, and this is after golf went dark in 2020 after the first round here. We have so much course history to go off of here, but I’m going to focus on three things first. I want the best ball strikers I can get so SG: Approach is top priority for me this week combined with guys who have really good form in the last month. I’m also going to look for some accurate drivers thanks to the datagolf guys showing that on this Pete Dye course you need it. Course history certainly factors in, so I’ll try to eye guys with at least a little experience here.
Inside the Leather
Corey Conners Top 20 (+250) - 1 unit
I’m backing Jeff’s favorite Canadian this week after a 3rd place finish at the API. He has eight top 25’s in his last 11 events and in his last 16 rounds he ranks 2nd in this field in SG: T2G and 6th in SG: Approach. He’s also a much better putter on Bermuda and finished last week 13th in the field in putting.
Paul Casey Top Former Arizona State Player (+250) - 1 unit
This will sound like a fade of Jon Rahm, but I actually think both can/will play well this week - I’m just betting on Casey to play a little better. He doesn’t have the best history here, but he’s playing extremely well a T10 last week and five straight top 12’s. In his last 16 rounds, he ranks 9th in T2G and 13th in approach. The other players in this prop are Phil Mickelson, Matt Jones, Chez Reavie and Pat Perez.
Tony Finau Top 20 (-110) - 2 units
“Top 5 Tony” has one finish outside the top 20 since November’s Masters so the odds for a top 20 seem like stealing to me. I’d like to think he took last week off to get in the zone the way I used to listen to Lil’ Wayne on the team bus in high school.
Matthew Fitzpatrick Top 20 (+200) - 1 unit
Another guy, like Casey, who doesn’t have the best history at TPC Sawgrass, but he’s playing too well and is too good to pass on this line. T11 and T10 the last two weeks on similar Florida courses and the second best putter in the field on Bermuda greens.
Patrick Reed Top 20 (+188) - 2 units
Missed cuts aren’t really something to bother too much with. If he misses again this week then you can start asking questions. In a setup with a lot of water and trouble abound I’m trusting crafty Pat Reed to find a way to get it done with his complete game. Amongst this field he’s positive in all SG categories in the last 6 weeks, and packs an accurate driver (47th in the PGA this year). He’s bounced back well from missed cuts in his history.
Webb Simpson Top 20 (+125) - 2 units
Give me another guy with a great all around game. In one and dones this week Webb is going to be so popular. He’s the perfect fit for the “I want to save the big guns but still want a potential winner” mentality. He packs the 4th most accurate ball off the tee in the PGA this year with positive approach play amongst the field in the last six weeks. That is a good combo to have, and makes a ton of sense when you’ve got five top 15s in your last nine events.
Matthew Fitzpatrick Top 20 (+200) - 2 units
Thanks again to all those that bogeyed #18 on Sunday to bring Fitz back into Top 10 territory. I think he stays in the mix this week even if his iron game isn’t spectacular. He’s 91st in the field in the last 6 weeks on SG: Approach, but he’s 60th this season in the entire PGA so I bet he has a good week. I think that’s likely since he has four straight outings with T17 or better. If the sweet spot on those irons arrives on contact, watch out.
Corey Conners Top 20 (+250) - 1 unit
Simply put, why not? He’s a tremendously accurate driver with a sweet set of irons. All the reasons we liked him last week are reasons we like him again this week. He backed that up with a shoe in top 20 so let’s go to the well again.
Lanto Griffin Top 20 (+450) - 1 unit
Up to 50th in the world after another solid week at Bay Hill; T7-T26-T22-T21 his last four starts. He’s 15th in the field over his last 16 rounds in SG: Approach and 19th in putting. Was in contention at the API until Sunday, he’s got the goods to keep it going.
Will Zalatoris Top 20 (+300) - 1 unit
It’s actually remarkable how good this guy’s been considering how bad he is at putting, but that’s how good he is tee to green. Willy Z ranks 6th this season T2G and 8th in approach and finished T10 last week. He has nine top 25’s in 12 starts this year.
Max Homa Top 20 (+400) - 1 unit
I was one of the people who expected him to drop off a little when he left the comfy confines of California, but he’s still getting it done! T22 at the WGC and T10 last week to kick off the Florida swing. His ranks the last 16 rounds are pretty strong across the board, especially in putting where he places 6th.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout Top 20 (+335) - 1 unit
This guy is the only golfer in the entire field gaining more than a stroke per round on Bermuda greens so that’s exciting. A T7 last week at Bay Hill is also exciting! Let’s see if he can keep it rolling at THE PLAYERS.
Andrew Putnam Top 20 (+700) - .5 unit
Why isn’t anyone talking about this guy? He finished 4th last week and has three top 7’s since the Waste Management five weeks ago. Might have to change his name to PUTTnam too because he’s a stud on the greens, ranking 4th in this loaded field the last 16 rounds in SG: putting.
Webb Simpson to Win (+2200) - .5 unit
Viktor Hovland to Win (+2800) - .5 unit
Matthew Fitzpatrick to Win (+5000) - .25 unit
A three-pack of win bets I feel good about, considering their odds. Jeff and I talked on the podcast about Webb’s floor being so high and he’s won this tournament before. He is 4th in driving accuracy, 29th in GIR% and 21st in putting this year with two top 10’s in his last three starts. Let’s just throw out Hovland’s last two rounds at Bay Hill as that’s not who he’s been lately. Who he’s been is a top 10 machine with elite stats off the tee and with his approach. It’s a matter of time before he starts winning the big ones. Lastly, Matthew Fitzpatrick is playing too well to be 50/1. T11 and T10 the last two weeks like I mentioned earlier and his putting is stellar.
Abraham Ancer top 20 (+335) - 1 unit
I’m excited about Ancer this week even if his form of late has been a mix of peaks and valleys. He followed up a missed cut with a T5 at AmEx, cut the next week, and went T18 at Genesis. I hope his accurate driver (1st in the PGA in driving accuracy) and irons (57th in SG: Approach amongst the field in the last 6 weeks) can create a ball striking weapon this week.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout top 20 (+335) - 1 unit
He finished 7th last week on another important ball striking course (I mean, they all are), and I think he can continue it this week with his irons. He’s 67th in the field in the last six weeks in SG: Approach, but I think the complete game is there. Who knows what would have happened last year, but maybe he’s licking his chops after a 65 last year on day one before it was cancelled.
Andrew Putnam Top 20 (+700) - .5 unit
Mark sold me on this pick live on the podcast. Everyone loves a good referral so let him sell you too and check out his breakdown.
Patrick Cantlay to win (+2200) - .5 unit
Tyrrell Hatton to win (+3500) - .5 unit
Scottie Scheffler to win (+5000) - .25 units
Joaquin Niemann to win (+6600) - .25 units
Loading up the money cannon with some win bets this week. In theory all of these guys are great candidates for Top 10 or Top 20 plays, but I want to really sweat a win bet (unlike the passive win I got in Puerto Rico with Branden Grace). Cantlay and Hatton don’t have a real weakness in their game and Cantaly is so level headed that he can get it back on the rails unlike others (*cough* Rahm *cough*) on a course that will bite you at times. Scheffler is also playing so well in every category and 50/1 is just too high. Niemann’s irons have let him down in the last 6 weeks or so, but he nearly beat many of the big guns in Hawaii so why not again?