The build-up to the 2021 Masters Tournament is on with the swing of high-profile events now underway.
The first talking point centres around Bryson DeChambeau … the protein shake poster boy donned the red jersey after taming Bay Hill (although he did fail to drive the par 5 sixth hole).
The bulky American barged his way back into top 10 after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational and won’t be slowing down. He headlines a strong field that includes World No 1 Dustin Johnson as well as 2019 winner Rory Mcllroy.
Of the big names not on the private jet to TPC Sawgrass are Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods and Matthew Wolff. South African fans will be waiting patiently for news on the fitness of the country’s leading player, Louis Oosthuizen, after he withdrew at the last minute from last week’s event.
In all, this week is one of the game’s blockbuster events with 28 of the top 30 in the current FedExCup standings and 48 of the world’s top 50 ranked players committed to playing.
The beauty of The Players is that it is played on the same course every year and that lends itself to setting up a possible DNA of a champion.
From a local perspective, Christiaan Bezuidenhout will be looking to replicate his efforts last year. The event was called off after one round with the South African close in behind Hideki Matsuyama’s course record 63. He was just two off the pace and after a big week last week, his odds of 66-1 seem favourable especially if you can put some money behind him finishing the in the top 5.
The key stats to look at will be Strokes Gained: Approach and bogey avoidance. Longer hitters will have an advantage but this tournament is more defined by course management and a good week of scrambling around the greens.
Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas all rank inside the tour’s top 10 for strokes gained approaching the green.
Morikawa is inside the season’s top 10 for greens in regulation while Dustin Johnson is the season’s best when it comes to scoring average. DJ is second in strokes gained tee to the green and Morikawa is third.
Thomas is sixth in around the green play and 14th in the tee to green category.
Which Player Should I Back?
It’s a big event. So bank on a big player to take the title.