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BlogWho will win at the Players on Sunday?

The Players Championship

May 8 – 11, 2014

TPC Sawgrass

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,215

Purse: $10 million

with $1.8 million to the winner

Defending Champion:
Tiger Woods

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

Things you need to know before Sunday’s final round:

Anybody else surprised to see Martin Kaymer leading?

In a way I am, Martin Kaymer is a perfect example of what’s really wrong with the PGA Tour, way too much money in which someone wins a big tournament and then loses the focus on winning again because they have way too much money and can’t spend it fast enough.  Back in 2010 Kaymer worked hard on the European Tour and in a span of about 36 months won six times in Europe and then in August of 2010 won the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.  After that he continued his good play winning again in Abu Dhabi at the start of 2011, then a month later at the WGC-Accenture Match Play he took over the number one spot in the official World Rankings.  He was only able to hold onto that title for five weeks but his game started to slip.  Yes he ended the year winning the prestige WGC-HSBC Championship in China, but his instant fame took his toll as he started enjoying all of the adelaides of winning all of that money.  He also made a very poor decision by changing his game in which he had the greatest little fade in the world to starting to draw the ball so that he could get more power and play well at the Masters.  Yes he won the Nedbank Golf Challenge the end of 2012 but in 2013 he was nothing but a shell of his former self as he only found himself in contention during the final round just three times.  Over the course of the last year since finishing T4th last June at the BMW International in Germany he fell into the depths of playing really bad which was a combination of realizing his problems and spending most of the end of 2013 revamping his swing with longtime swing coach Gunter Kessler.  It’s been a long hard road for Kaymer, who is the poster child for the stereotype of the quintessential German meticulously striving for perfection.

So has Kaymer found that perfection which made him so good in 2010?

For the moment yes, he has now learned that there is nothing wrong with moving the ball left to right but at the same time can reach back and hit that perfect draw shot when needed.  What Kaymer has really capitalized in this week is overcoming one of the weaknesses of his game and that is scrambling in which he has habitually been near the bottom of the barrel for years now.  But this week he is fourth in that stat getting it up and down 10 of 13 times which his good since he leads the field in greens in regulation hitting 41 of 54 greens.  But there is one dark spot to his game this week and that is with the putter, yes he may be 4th in total putts made but most of that came in the first and second rounds as he is 28th in strokes gained putting.  So the big question for Kaymer going into the final round is if he could keep up with his great iron play in hitting lots of greens which wasn’t very good in the third round as he hit only 11 of 18 greens.  So there could be a lot of challenges for Martin on Sunday.

So why have you wasted so much time on Kaymer and still haven’t uttered a single word about Jordan Spieth?

Frankly because we have to give Kaymer his do for playing so well, but as we know winning is a fine and very meticulous art in which you try to gain momentum every day, which is hard to do when you shot a first round 63.  Before this week only two others started the Players with a 63 and it ended great for Greg Norman in 1994 with a win but for Roberto Castro last year he ended up T19th.  So you can get my hint, Sunday could be very tough for Kaymer which brings us to Jordan Spieth, who in a way is also going backwards but you have to give him some credit for going 54 holes without a bogey.  Greg Norman did the same feat in his 1994 victory, going 66 holes before finally making his only bogey of the week.

So am I also putting the “kibosh” onto Spieth?

Yes and no.  Spieth has had a great year with one exception and that is that he hasn’t won yet in 2014.  He had great opportunities to do that at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and Masters, but Spieth has also had great opportunities at the Farmers Insurance, AT&T Pebble Beach and Northern Trust but just hasn’t played that great on Sunday in those spots.  So we all know that it’s only a matter of time before Spieth does win and frankly Sunday could be the perfect day for him.  One thing about Spieth he has been more consistent than Kaymer over the course of three rounds, with the exception of his putting which was not very good on Saturday.

Let’s cut to the chase, will either Kaymer or Spieth win on Sunday?

The odds are 3 in 4 that one of the two will win.  They have a three shot lead over Sergio Garcia and John Senden and four over Matt Jones, George McNeill and Gary Woodland who all of them I can’t see winning.  Now Sergio is a past champion of the Players, winning it in 2008 But frankly I can only see him winning it in one way, he has to back into the victory because I just can’t see him going out on Sunday, shooting 66 and stroll across the finish line with a two shot victory.  If you question my thinking on that, just go back a year when Garcia was tied for the lead with Tiger Woods on the 17th tee and proceeded to hit two into the lake at 17 on the way to making a 7, then made a double bogey at 18 to fall from first into a T8th.  Could be the most costly last two holes in golf as he only won $237,500 while Tiger marched off with $1,710,000 and Kevin Streelman, David Lingmerth and Jeff Maggert left Ponte Vedra with $709,333 in their pockets.

So does anyone else have a chance?

With Kaymer and Spieth leading by three and those tied for third not very strong it leaves the door open for those at either 7, 6 or even 5 under shooting a 63 or 64 and stealing a victory.  Look at Lee Westwood or Francesco Molinari at 7 under, being one who could shot 64.  Gosh how many tournaments do the golfing Gods owe Lee Westwood?  In a way Westwood knows a bit of this as he went into the final round of the 2010 Players leading but shot 74 while Tim Clark shot 67 to win.  In 1998 Justin Leonard was five shots back going into the final round, shot 67 and won by two so both Westwood and Molinari are within easy reach.  Also don’t write off Stewart Cink and Jim Furyk at 6 under, along with Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose or even Justin Leonard who are seven back of the lead but only four back of third place.  The good news for Kaymer and Spieth is the weather, there will be a lack of win which is the number one reason that leaders fall apart.  But there is a 30% chance for thunderstorms and light showers which will help them and prevent some really bad rounds.  The weather will also make the finish a bit easier, hard to believe that only 1 ball was hit in the water at 17 yesterday, the total of 25 makes it a very tame hole.

Below is a list of the top-31 players on the leader board going to three under which is 9  shots back of Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth:

Of the top-31 on the leaderboard, who is playing the best: for the The Players Championship

Player Wells Fargo Zurich Classic Volvo China RBC Heritage Maybank Malaysian Masters Shell Houston Valero Texas Arnold Palmer Valspar Champ. WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda Classic
Matt Kuchar
(297.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T5
(93.33)
2
(66.67)
T4
(26.67)
DNP T38
(4)
T13
(18.5)
DNP DNP
Bubba Watson
(224.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(176)
DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP T2
(50)
DNP DNP
Jim Furyk
(214.67 pts)
2
(100)
DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP T14
(48)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP T20
(10)
T62
(0)
DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(199.17 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(66.67)
T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP DNP T25
(12.5)
DNP T2
(33.33)
Justin Rose
(189.33 pts)
5
(70)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(48)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T8
(16.67)
T34
(8)
DNP DNP
Jordan Spieth
(183.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T2
(133.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
10
(13.33)
DNP T20
(10)
T34
(8)
DNP DNP
Lee Westwood
(179.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
7
(73.33)
T17
(22)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T34
(8)
DNP T46
(1.33)
Henrik Stenson
(155 pts)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP T14
(48)
T54
(0)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP T16
(17)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
John Senden
(135.67 pts)
DNP T29
(21)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(66.67)
DNP T42
(2.67)
T52
(0)
Win
(44)
DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
Rory Sabbatini
(117 pts)
T8
(50)
T17
(33)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
Gary Woodland
(107.67 pts)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T26
(32)
DNP DNP T20
(10)
T8
(16.67)
T16
(17)
DNP DNP
Adam Scott
(103.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(48)
DNP DNP 3
(30)
DNP T25
(12.5)
DNP T12
(12.67)
Bill Haas
(93.33 pts)
T44
(6)
DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP T20
(40)
T37
(8.67)
DNP DNP T14
(12)
T6
(30)
DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(80.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(17)
DNP T8
(16.67)
Stewart Cink
(71.67 pts)
T23
(27)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP T14
(48)
T58
(0)
DNP 66
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T58
(0)
Matt Jones
(70 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
Win
(88)
DNP T14
(12)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Zach Johnson
(67.67 pts)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T6
(20)
T43
(2.33)
DNP T16
(17)
DNP T33
(5.67)
Martin Kaymer
(65.33 pts)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP T31
(25.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Daniel Summerhays
(65 pts)
T55
(0)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T2
(33.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
David Hearn
(54 pts)
T44
(6)
T34
(16)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T52
(0)
T8
(16.67)
DNP T24
(8.67)
T6
(20)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Of the top-31 on the leaderboard, who isn’t playing well: for the The Players Championship

Player Wells Fargo Zurich Classic Volvo China RBC Heritage Maybank Malaysian Masters Shell Houston Valero Texas Arnold Palmer Valspar Champ. WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda Classic
Brian Davis
(-12 pts)
T60
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T74
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T46
(1.33)
T20
(10)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Hideki Matsuyama
(-1.67 pts)
T38
(12)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T34
(8)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
Justin Leonard
(-0.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T65
(0)
T31
(6.33)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Morgan Hoffmann
(4.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T34
(16)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
WD
(-1.67)
T35
(5)
T25
(8.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Bo Van Pelt
(11 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T25
(25)
DNP T48
(1.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T26
(8)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Ryan Moore
(31.17 pts)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP T25
(12.5)
DNP DNP
George McNeill
(33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
7
(18.33)
DNP T19
(10.33)
T12
(12.67)
Brandt Snedeker
(36 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T74
(0)
DNP T37
(17.33)
DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
T58
(0)
46
(2)
DNP DNP
Brian Stuard
(37.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T60
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T43
(2.33)
T24
(8.67)
Steve Stricker
(42.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T31
(25.33)
T24
(17.33)
DNP DNP DNP 57
(0)
DNP DNP
David Hearn
(54 pts)
T44
(6)
T34
(16)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T52
(0)
T8
(16.67)
DNP T24
(8.67)
T6
(20)

How Player Rankings are Computed

In Conclusion:

That the winner will come out of the last group.  They have the easy conditions with the lack of win, the course could be soft with the rain and Kaymer knows how to hold on.  Of course Kaymer did have a bad experience last week at the Wells Fargo as he shot a final round 75 when he entered the final round just five off the lead.  But  if you look at this list you can see in both the European Tour and the PGA Tour that Kaymer is ok when close to the lead.  It may of been a while since he last won, but he knows how to do it.  That is something that Jordan Spieth still is learning but I also think he is very close and give him a very good chance of winning.  So that is why I give it a 3 in 4 chance of the winner coming out of that final pairing.  Could someone steal the show, yes but very unlikely.

 

Who to watch for on Sunday at the The Players Championship

Best Bets:

Jordan Spieth

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

This kid is way too good and I can see him doing it on Sunday. He was great for nine holes at the Masters, those memories are fresh in his mind and I think that he will understand what it takes to win.

Martin Kaymer

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T43 T15 T19 T34 T55

He is too meticulous for him to choke. I really think that if he starts out struggling it won’t be a pretty day for him. But if he can go out and play the first three holes in one under, he will gain the momentum that he lost on Saturday and will be hard to beat.

Best of the rest:

Sergio Garcia

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 T56 T12 T47 T22 Win 2 T14 T32 T53 CUT T4

He is his worst enemy, he has to play really good on the front nine to have any chance and then he has see if he can hold on for dear life. Sergio is a poster child for collapsing down the stretch and until he learns to not think of it, he will never win again. We still think of Garcia as this young upstart but the reality is that just like Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie he has a lot of battle scares from past disasters which make winning close to impossible for him. He needs to back into a victory.

Lee Westwood

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 T61 T4 CUT T38 T22 CUT

Just like with Garcia, he has this bubble over him that seems to prevent him from winning. But in both cases for once maybe the golfing Gods will be kind to them.

Matt Jones

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T19 CUT

The odds on him winning are 30 to one, not bad for a guy that is just four back. I can see him winning before I see Garcia or Westwood winning, just remember he began the final round six back at Shell Houston shot 66 and beat Matt Kuchar in playoff. Could lightning strike twice in a span of five weeks, who knows?

Not a chance:

John Senden

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T43 CUT CUT CUT T37 CUT T52 CUT T22 T58 CUT

Yes he did it at Valspar but this course is too hard for John.

George McNeill

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T64 T58 CUT CUT

There is a reason he is 50 to one. Even at those odds I wouldn’t risk a single dollar on him.

Gary Woodland

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT CUT

Yes he has the length and is given a 25 to one chance by the bookies, but I won’t risk a dollar on him.

Long shots that could come through:

Matt Kuchar

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T48 Win T54 T13 T14 CUT T16 CUT WD

He came back at Hilton Head so he knows how to do it.

Bubba Watson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T37 T45 CUT T37 CUT CUT

You never know with him, if he is really hot with the putter but the odds are long

Jim Furyk

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T25 CUT T47 T5 T27 T28 T3 CUT T4 T14

Member of the 59 club so nothing is beyond his reach.

Henrik Stenson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T5 T15 CUT CUT Win T10 T23 T3

Was my choice as winner of the week, probably won’t win but could finish in top-three

Justin Leonard

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T55 T70 T57 T52 T32 CUT CUT CUT CUT T42 T21 T44

Even though it was 16 years ago, the memories of what Leonard did in 1998 could help him on Sunday.

Not a smart bet:

Bubba Watson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T37 T45 CUT T37 CUT CUT

Sorry but even though this course is suited for him I think the Masters victory will be in his mind instead of winning.

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