Webb Simpson has put himself in a commanding position in The Players Championship, holding a five-stroke lead at the top of the leaderboard after the second day of the competition.
The American matched the exploits of Dustin Johnson to hold a share of the lead after the opening round, but he took his game to the next level to power ahead of the rest of the field.
Simpson is the man to beat heading into the weekend, although Charl Schwartzel, Patrick Cantlay and Danny Lee are among the chasing pack.
Jason Day has continued his strong level of form with another solid performance, but he’s seven strokes off the pace of the lead.
It appears to be Simpson’s to lose as he pursues his fifth career title. We’ll now break down his odds and the other leading contenders for the crown at TPC Sawgrass.
Simpson entered his second round of the tournament off a strong performance on the opening day, carding a six-under round of 66. However, the American put forward an outstanding display to come within striking distance of the course record at TPC Sawgrass to take control of the leaderboard heading into the weekend. He began on the front nine and made his intentions known with an eagle at the second before reeling off birdies at the fifth and seventh. Simpson sent himself into the back nine with momentum as he notched a birdie on the ninth, dropping him to five-under on the round.
After parring the 10th, the 32-year-old started an incredible run that would take him to the brink of the course record. Simpson birdied six holes on the bounce, which left his score at 11-under for the round and 17-under on the competition. At the 17th he went for an eight iron over the water, but came up millimetres short as his ball clattered off the wood panelling and dropped into the drink. The American carded a double-bogey, ending his hopes of a 59, although he closes out the day with a course-equally round of 63. His odds for victory are fairly narrow given the size of his five-shot lead, therefore take him for value at odds of +163 with Betway.
The South African has proven pedigree in major tournaments, having won the Masters in 2011. However, he had not been on form in the current campaign until he found his rhythm at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, placing third in the competition. Schwartzel followed up his efforts with by placing tied-ninth at the Wells Fargo Championship. The 33-year-old was solid on day one, carding a four-under round of 68.
Schwartzel build on his performance as he started on the front nine, beginning with an early birdie on the second. He was steady for the majority of the opening nine holes before finding his form just before the turn with successive birdies at the eighth and ninth.
The 33-year-old reeled another round of successive birdies at the 11th and 12th before adding his final of the day at 16. It was a flawless performance from the South African, although it was overshadowed by Simpson’s brilliance. It will take something special for him to close the gap, but his odds of +1400 with Betway are inviting should the American struggle on day three.
Cantlay has been a model of consistency on the tour this season, notching one win and four top-10 finishes on the term. The American notched his first career title at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open with a fine performance and has steadily built on his effort. He came into the Players Championship with back-to-back top-10 placings at the RBC Heritage and Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Cantlay was impressive on the opening day and tied Simpson among others at the top of the leaderboard with a score of six-under.
The 26-year-old began his day on the front of the course and made a statement of intent by birdieing the opening three holes. He immediately moved on to nine-under in the competition to put the field under pressure. Cantlay was steady until the ninth where a wayward tee shot put him in trouble, carding a bogey. He recovered at the 10th with a birdie and then followed it up with another at 11th before remaining at evens for the rest of the round, posting a score of 68. Given his inexperience odds of +1100 with 888Sport are not that intriguing, with better found elsewhere.
The Swede has come close to breaking his duck on the PGA Tour this season, finishing in the top-five on three occasions. He finished second at the Farmers Insurance Open and placed third at the The Honda Classic and the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. Noren continued his fine form on the opening day of the competition, earning a share of the lead with a score of 66. The 35-year-old was solid in his second round, but could not make the inroads he would have liked have narrowed the gap to Simpson at the top.
Noren started on the front nine and notched a birdie at the third, although his momentum was checked immediately, carding a double-bogey on the fourth after a couple of wayward shots and a missed putt. Three birdies between the ninth and the 12th found his rhythm, although another bogey knocked him back. The Swede ended strongly to finish three-under for the day and six strokes off the lead. His odds of +1400 with BetVictor are worth a punt given his recent form.
Day remains in contention for the title at eight-under on the competition. The Australian has been consistent on the opening two days, but will need two flawless efforts to even close the gap on Simpson at the top. He began the day three-under and on the back nine, notching his first birdie of the day on the 12th. Day was steady before recording his second birdie at the par-three 17, sending him into the front of the course with momentum.
The next five holes produced three birdies taking the Australian to eight-under on the tournament where he finished the day tied-eighth. His quality makes a standout contender within those capable of catching Simpson. Day has excellent value at +1600 with 888Sport to win the crown for a second time.
Webb Simpson To Win The Players Championship
Saturday 12th May – Sunday 13th May 2018
Jason Day To Win The Players Championship
Saturday 12th May – Sunday 13th May 2018
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