Steve Palmer’s Players Championship first-round leader preview, best bets | Sports News

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Sam Greenwood

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Keith Mitchell could make a quick start to The Players Championship

Sam Greenwood

When to watch

Sky Sports Main Event and Golf, 11:45 a.m. Thursday

Best bets

Keith Mitchell leader of the first lap
1pt each way 100-1 Betfair, Power

Overview

Florida is a dream location for British and Irish holidaymakers who are tired of the cold, miserable conditions often found back home, but this week the so-called Sunshine State is forecast for unusually bad weather.

For a tournament as prestigious as the Players Championship, golf bettors generally like to have some extra investment, and many will be more interested than usual in the first-round leader market. The difficulty, however, is how likely the weather seems to impact TPC Sawgrass.

It’s not just a matter of identifying which actors might get started quickly – predicting when the electrical activity in the sky might stop the proceedings is the other challenge. Thunderstorms are on the radar for the first round – and if they are of significant duration, the first 18 holes may have to end on Friday. There’s less lightning in Friday’s picture, but it’s certainly possible for Round 2 to turn into a windy Saturday morning.

With the storms slated to begin Wednesday night, soggy Sawgrass can be expected Thursday morning no matter how hard the PGA Tour chiefs run the underdrain system. A power that puts well should take advantage of the cut in the ground as soon as play is allowed – and starting on the first hole is better on the tenth. One and two is an easier start than ten and 11, especially in bad weather.

Keith Mitchell, who left at 8:24 a.m. local time on the first, appealed at 100-1. His Florida Swing record is superb and only one player has surpassed him in the second round of the 2019 Players Championship – Sawgrass’ first rally in a March slot on the schedule. In the 2020 edition, Mitchell opened with a 68 for seventh place before the event was scrapped.

Given the way Mitchell has fared this year – seventh at the Sony Open, 12th at Pebble Beach, tenth at Phoenix and ninth at the Honda Classic – he seems to have every chance of getting among the top birdies at Sawgrass.

Mitchell’s lone PGA Tour win came in Florida — the 2019 Honda — on the TifEagle Bermuda grass greens. He’s getting his favorite putting surface again at Sawgrass this week and could put his name to the standings early.


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FIRST PUBLICATION AT 1:10 PM, MARCH 9, 2022

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