Webb Simpson in command after stunning second round
Tiger Woods looks a twoball banker
Sky Sports Golf, 1.30pm Saturday
Webb Simpson threatened to shoot an outrageous 59 on one of the toughest courses in the world in the second round of the Players Championship.
The 2012 US Open champion was absolutely inspired at TPC Sawgrass, reaching 11 under par for his round through 16 holes, requiring a birdie at each of the final two holes to card arguably the greatest score in the history of the sport.
Sadly for Simpson, the 17th and 18th at Sawgrass are extremely difficult, and he played them in two over par, having to settle for a 63 and a share of the course record. He found water off the tee at the 17th and made a double-bogey, but a par at the 18th secured a five-shot advantage for the weekend.
Simpson, freely available at 100-1 on Monday and a general 80-1 by tournament-eve, is a best-price 7-4 with bet365 with 36 holes to play. Racing Post Sport followers are on board ante-post, so punters with a decent bet at the juicy prices may want to consider some cover shots on the main potential party poopers.
Charl Schwartzel has never been a fan of Sawgrass, even skipping the event some years, and the South African is a surprise member of the final twoball. Patrick Cantlay, a supreme ball-striker who seems likely to enter the top ten of the world rankings before the end of the year, is much more feared from the same score.
The huge and boisterous Sawgrass galleries could be an issue as the volume increases on Sunday, though, as the snail-like pace of Cantlay's play becomes an irritant. Even Simpson, chasing history, was heckled for taking too long on his tee-shot at 17 in round two, and the Sawgrass patrons are an unforgiving bunch.
Jason Day, seven behind and an 8-1 chance, and Sergio Garcia, eight adrift and a 33-1 poke, may emerge as the biggest dangers to Simpson. The leader is in fine fettle, though, arriving at Sawgrass with all departments of his game in order, and the four-time US Tour champion should find a way of repelling the chasing pack.
Third-round twoball punters are pointed towards three favourites, who could be placed in doubles or a treble, and two players who are odds-against but should be odds-on.
Two-time Players champion Tiger Woods, who should be getting used to his new irons, can outclass an inevitably nervous and twitchy Mackenzie Hughes (2pm), while defending champ Si Woo Kim should prove too steady for Cody Gribble (5.10pm) and likewise Cantlay against Danny Lee in the penultimate contest of the night (7.30pm).
Chez Reavie (2.10pm) and Zach Johnson (4.20pm) are two neat and tidy players well suited to Sawgrass, and this accurate duo can outscore erratic opponents – Jamie Lovemark and Brooks Koepka. The latter is obviously US Open champ and world-class, but Koepka irritated his troublesome wrist on the driving range earlier in the week and is not a man to depend on when fairway-finding is the key to success.
3pts 8-13 Sky Bet
S W Kim
3pts 4-6 BoyleSports, Sky Bet
2pts 4-6 bet365
1pt 11-10 bet365
1pt 6-5 Betfair, Power, 188bet
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