Francesco Molinari set to be top European at track he adores
Si Woo Kim can be top Asian
Sky Sports Golf, 12.30pm Thursday
Francesco Molinari adores the TPC Sawgrass and the accurate Italian can be fancied to end the Players Championship as the leading European.
There are question marks against many of the market leaders in this section. The favourite, Rory McIlroy, missed his first three cuts at Sawgrass and has never felt entirely comfortable on the quirky track. His greatest asset – his driving ability – is neutralised by the water-strewn Florida beast. The Big Dog stays in the bag for the vast majority of a round.
Jon Rahm, second in the European betting, is another player who loves to wield his driver, and Sawgrass will provide an extreme test of patience for the attacking and often volatile Spaniard, who finished 72nd on his Players debut 12 months ago.
Molinari is more than happy to plot his way along this dangerous course, hitting fairways and greens, grinding out pars, and slowly but surely working his way up the leaderboard. His last three Sawgrass visits have resulted in form figures of 6-7-6.
Molinari has a couple of Ryder Cup caps under his belt, so should be comfortable in elite arenas such as this one, but finishing second in the USPGA Championship last year has added an extra layer of self-belief. He has been in tidy form, culminating in 16th place at Quail Hollow on Sunday, and can upstage his flashier foes over the next four days.
The other 'tops' wager which appeals is the defending champion – Si Woo Kim – who can claim top Asian honours. Kim finished 23rd on his Players debut in 2016 and relishes the stiff tee-to-green test. He lost a playoff for the Heritage a month ago and is full of long-game control.
Hideki Matsuyama is the Asian favourite, but the Japanese has struggled since returning from a wrist injury in the middle of March, and he laboured to 76th spot in the Wells Fargo Championship last week.
F Molinari top European
1pt each-way 15-1 BoyleSports
S W Kim top Asian
1pt each-way 6-1 Hills
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