After a two-year wait, Rory McIlroy will finally get the chance to defend his Sawgrass title. Here's everything you need to know from the Players

The Players Championship: Staking plan

There are five players I’ve got my eye on at Sawgrass…

Tyrrell Hatton – 2.5pts e/w win @ 35/1 with Bet365

Hatton has undoubtedly been one of the best players in the world over the last six months or so, winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the BMW PGA Championship along the way. In this time period, he ranks 15th for SG: Tee-to-Green, 7th for SG: Approach, and 26th for SG: Putting. I will almost certainly be considering Hatton for the major championships this year, so I can’t believe the value we can get on him this week. Hatton got off to a slow start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, shooting 77 and allowing the red mist to descend. What impressed me was his gritty display on Friday to shoot 67 and make the cut, putting together a run of four consecutive birdies on the back nine. This was followed by a spectacular 66 on Saturday and despite a slow finish in tricky conditions, there are certainly positives to take from Bay Hill. We backed Collin Morikawa off the back of a gutsy display to make the cut at the Genesis, so using a similar theory, I am hoping that Hatton can kick on and deliver our second winner of the year.

Daniel Berger – 2.5pts e/w win @ 40/1 with Bet365

For a player who won at Pebble Beach just a few weeks ago, Berger looks to be a huge price to take this. He has played at Sawgrass five times with one top 10 to date, but Berger has improved considerably in the last 12 months, including two wins as well as four top 10s in his last six starts. In the last 12 months he’s ranked 18th for SG: Tee-to-Green, 12th for SG: Approach, and 5th for SG: Putting.

Joaquin Niemann – 2pts e/w win @ 55/1 with Bet365

One of the most exciting young talents on the PGA Tour and, after a strong start to 2021, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Niemann challenging on the biggest occasion. The Chilean dazzled in Hawaii in January, finishing runner-up in back-to-back events and despite being a debutant at Sawgrass he should suit this test, ranking 8th for SG: Tee-to-Green, 14th for SG: Around-the-Green, and 28th for SG: Approach in 2021. Niemann has made every cut on the PGA Tour this season, with five top-20 finishes, with solid form on strategic, wind-affected courses like Harbour Town.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout – 1pt e/w win @ 70/1 with Bet365

Bezuidenhout has only played one competitive round at TPC Sawgrass, but it is that round in particular that fills me with optimism about this selection. Before last year’s Players was cancelled Bezuidenhout shot a bogey-free 65. More recently his form has been positive, with a 7th place finish at Bay Hill, where he ranked 9th for SG: Around-the-Green and 4th for SG: Putting, demonstrating his short game prowess that will be invaluable here.

Abraham Ancer – 1pt e/w win @ 75/1 with Bet365

Ancer impressed in 2019 with a solid Players debut where he finished 12th, and after a very strong first three rounds at the Masters in November I can see him stepping up to the challenge again. Since then he has five top 20s in seven events which has seen the Mexican’s Strokes Gained statistics improve from tee to green. Wind should not be a problem for Ancer to negotiate, with solid performances at the Mayakoba and the RBC Heritage in the last 12 months. At a big price, Ancer certainly represents each-way value, and if at his best he could surprise a few this week.

And, as it’s a big week, I’ve also picked out a few specials…

Webb Simpson – 1.5pts e/w 1st round leader @ 35/1 with Bet365

Joaquin Niemann – 1.5pts e/w 1st round leader @ 55/1 with Bet365

Si Woo Kim – 1.5pts e/w 1st round leader @ 90/1 with Bet365

I’ve also put 3pts on the following treble…

Cameron Smith to be top Australian (3/1 with Bet365), Si Woo Kim to be top Asian (5/1 with Bet365) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout to be top South African (15/8 with Bet365).

For more prices, visit Bet365.

How would you like to be at next year’s Players Championship?

The NCG Top 100s Tour is back and bigger than ever – and the grand prize is a VIP trip to TPC Sawgrass for the 2022 Players Championship.

Subscribe to NCG