If you are a customer that has snapped up one of Coral’s great value starter bonus offers (and if you haven’t there’s still plenty on offer, including this great Coral Vegas New Player Bonus deal available for mobile customers) then you’ll likely be aware that alongside its Poker, Casino and Bingo offering, Coral has a long-established and hugely popular sports betting site.

Coral Sport offers outstanding betting on a wide range of sports, including esports betting and Virtual Sports, but it is its offers on the most popular sports that attract the greatest interest from punters, especially when there is a major sporting event about to take place.

Later this week, the cream of the professional golfing community will head to the famous Sawgrass course in Jacksonville, Florida to compete in what has unofficially been labelled as golf’s “fifth major”; The Players Championship.

Why is The Players Championship regarded so highly?

The reasons that this particular tournament is rated by many players as being an equal of a Major are many and varied. Firstly, the quality of the field that the tournament has is on a par with any Major with all of the top seeded players in the world expected to play, if fit and healthy.

Secondly, The Players Championship also has one of the largest prize pools available for players. The Masters, for example, in April had a prize pool of $11,000,000. The Players Championship also has a prize pool of $11,000,000.  Only the US Open ($12,000,000) has a larger prize pool than these two events on the 2018 PGA tournament schedule.

The winner of The Players Championship will pocket $1.89 million, which is second only to the prizes on offer in Major championships.

Another key factor in the popularity of the tournament is the iconic Pete Dye designed Sawgrass course, which boasts one of the most instantly recognisable holes in golf, the iconic 17th Island Green. Here players have only 125 yards to play, but where they must land the ball on the green as there is no fairway and only one greenside bunker in play – the green itself is almost completely surrounded by water with just a small walkway to reach the green.

The tournament itself isn’t particularly old, the first Players Championship was contested back in 1982 but its prestige and importance on the tour has grown considerably since then and it has produced a long list of some very talented, and its fair share of surprise, winners.

Who are the previous winners of The Players Championship?

The only player to have won The Players Championship more than twice is Jack Nicklaus (1974, 1976 and 1978) although those wins came before the tournament was played at the current course. Since 1982, when the event moved to Sawgrass Stadium Course, five players have won the event twice: Hal Sutton (1983, 2000) Fred Couples (1984, 1996), Steve Elkington (1991, 1997), Davis Love III (1992, 2003) and Tiger Woods (2001, 2013).

Some of the surprise winners of the event include Craig Perks (2002), Fred Funk (2005), Stephen Ames (2006), Tim Clark (2010) and last year’s winner Kim Si-woo (2017).

There are many notable players never to have won the event including the likes of Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Jose-Maria Olazabal, Tom Watson, Colin Montgomerie and Bernard Langer from several years ago, while of the modern generation Rory McIlroy, Justin Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm are yet to taste victory here.

Who Will Start as the Favourites for this year’s Player’s Championship?

Having claimed victory at the Wells Fargo Championship this past weekend, Jason Day heads into Sawgrass in great form and $1,386,000 richer than before the event. Other players to look out for are Bubba Watson, who has already landed two big wins in 2018, while Ian Poulter (twice a runner up at The Players Championship) and Paul Casey could well head the challenge from Europe with both players in solid form on the US Tour of late.

Further challenge from European players will come from the likes of world ranked number 3 Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, who has already won on the US Tour this season, and Sergio Garcia, a former winner and twice runner up in this event.

However, these European players will have to overcome a stern challenge from America’s finest which will include Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Master’s Champion Patrick Reed and the legend Tiger Woods, who seems to be getting back to some of his best form after a lengthy spell out with a back injury.

Coral’s Betting markets on The Players Championship

Coral are currently offering some great value and a massive choice of betting markets on The Players Championship which starts on Thursday. Outlined below are some of those markets and some of our best tips for each.

  • 2018 Players Championship – Top 5 Finish Odds with Coral

Coral are offering punters the chance to back players to finish inside the top five, which is a more appealing bet than backing the outright winner market, which can be very tricky in golf. Jason Day and Rory McIlroy are both 3/1 at this price with the American trio of Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas all slightly longer odds at 10/3.

Personally, with accuracy off the tee at a premium, my tip here would be Henrik Stenson (5/1). The Swede has won this event in the past and he uses a 3-wood from the tee which ensures accuracy as well as distance.

  • 2018 Players Championship – Top GB and Ireland Player

One interesting market for punters this side of the Atlantic Ocean is which player from Great Britain and Northern Ireland will finish furthest up the leaderboard. Unsurprisingly, it’s Rory McIlroy who leads the betting at 11/5 and he is followed by the duo Paul Casey and Justin Rose at 4/1, with Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter both 8/1.

While McIlroy is the tempting bet, I don’t feel that Sawgrass suits his game particularly well and I think the form Paul Casey is in at the moment, makes him the stand out bet here.

  • 2018 Players Championship – Outright Winner

One thing the history of the Players Championship has shown is that this event can see top players win, but it can also allow the underdog a chance to shine too. There’s plenty of top talent in this event but the player who tends to win at Sawgrass is the player that finds fairways from the tee with the minimum of fuss and who can deal with the unusual pressures of the 17th hole, which can be a scorecard-wrecker.

In that respect, I think Henrik Stenson is the solid pick here. The Swede is methodical, accurate and very calm under pressure and he has the putting skill to land some of the monster and undulating putts you need to sink in order to win the event.