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BlogThe Players Preview and Picks

The Players Championship

May 11th – 14th, 2017

TPC Sawgrass

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Par: 72 / Yardage:

Purse: $1.5 million

with $1,890,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jason Day

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 76 of the top 100 in the lastest Official World rankings and 48 of the top 50.  The only top-50 players not in the field is #25 Thomas Pieters & #27 Brandt Snedeker.  No reason for Pieters not playing as for Snedeker he hurt his wrist at the Masters and the injury, described as tenosynivitis which is inflammation of a tendon is bothering him.  According to Golf Channel, Snedeker was considering surgery but will rest it with the thought of playing in the Byron Nelson.  Historically this event has always been the second most attended event off the World Rankings, with the PGA Championship always having what could be regarded as the best field in golf.

Last year 46 of the top-50 played in the event

The field includes all 47 of the top 50 on the FedEx point standings for 2017.  The only ones not in the field are #22 Charles Howell III, #34 Ollie Schniederjans and #37 Brandt Snedeker.

The field includes 46 players of the top 50 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.  The only ones not in the field are #25 Charles Howell III,  #38 Brandt Snedeker, #39 Kelly Kraft and #46 Ollie Schniederjans.

There are six players that qualified for the Players but are not competing: Brandt Snedeker (wrist), Jon Curran (rib), Colt Knost (wrist), John Senden (family medical issue), Tiger Woods (back) and Thomas Pieters

The field includes 9 past champions: Jason Day (2016), Rickie Fowler (2015), Martin Kaymer (2014), Matt Kuchar (2012), K.J. Choi (2011), Henrik Stenson (2009), Sergio Garcia (2008), Phil Mickelson (2007) and Adam Scott (2004).

111 PGA Tour winners for a total of 455 PGA Tour victories.

All winners on the PGA Tour since The Players last year will be at TPC Sawgrass

A total of 18 first-time Players Championship participants will play with five of them winning on the PGA Tour this season: Wesley Bryan (RBC Heritage), Cody Gribble (Sanderson Farms Championship), Mackenzie Hughes (RSM CLassic), Jon Rahm (Farmers Insurance) and Cameron Smith (Zurich Classic).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Players Championship field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Players Championship in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Players Championship.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker North America, Vovada.  They give winning odds plus top-five and first round leader odds.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

 

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the The Players Championship

Player Wells Fargo Championship Zurich Classic of New Orleans Volvo China Open Valero Texas Open Shenzhen International RBC Heritage Masters Shell Houston Open WGC-Dell Match Play Championship Puerto Rico Open Arnold Palmer Invitational Hero Indian Open Valspar Championship
Bernd Wiesberger
(255.83 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T43
(9.33)
T23
(18)
T17
(16.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brooks Koepka
(241.17 pts)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP T11
(52)
DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Kevin Chappell
(205.17 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP T7
(73.33)
T44
(4)
T39
(5.5)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP
Cameron Smith
(205 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP T49
(0.33)
Brian Harman
(200.33 pts)
Win
(132)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(30)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Ross Fisher
(197 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP T41
(12)
DNP T5
(35)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jon Rahm
(187.33 pts)
4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T27
(30.67)
T10
(26.67)
2
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(186 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(176)
DNP T30
(10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(175.17 pts)
CUT
(-10)
2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
T43
(9.33)
DNP T17
(16.5)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP
Pat Perez
(170.17 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T70
(0)
T18
(42.67)
DNP T17
(16.5)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP DNP
Dustin Johnson
(166 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(66)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Russell Henley
(162.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T26
(16)
T11
(52)
Win
(88)
DNP DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP T9
(15)
Ryan Palmer
(159.33 pts)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Justin Rose
(159 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(133.33)
T15
(23.33)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP DNP
Charley Hoffman
(158.67 pts)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP T40
(10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T22
(37.33)
T23
(18)
DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Charl Schwartzel
(158.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
(120)
DNP T17
(16.5)
DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP 6
(20)
Jason Dufner
(157 pts)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
T33
(22.67)
T12
(25.33)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(13)
Matt Kuchar
(155.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T40
(10)
DNP T11
(26)
T4
(106.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
T30
(10)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
Paul Casey
(143.5 pts)
T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 6
(80)
DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP
Sung Kang
(139.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP T11
(26)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Jonas Blixt
(138.67 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP T44
(4)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T76
(0)
DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
Patrick Cantlay
(136.67 pts)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(60)
DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
Jordan Spieth
(135.33 pts)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(52)
CUT
(-6.67)
T30
(10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Branden Grace
(124.83 pts)
DNP T24
(26)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP T11
(26)
T27
(30.67)
DNP T39
(5.5)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Tony Finau
(121.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T34
(10.67)
DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP 5
(23.33)
Ryan Moore
(118 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP T9
(60)
DNP T30
(10)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP T18
(10.67)
Wesley Bryan
(117.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T29
(21)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP T62
(0)
69
(0)
DNP T7
(18.33)
Rickie Fowler
(114.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(52)
T3
(60)
DNP DNP 12
(12.67)
DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(110 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(73.33)
DNP T30
(10)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Justin Thomas
(109.5 pts)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(37.33)
DNP T39
(5.5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Tommy Fleetwood
(105.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T39
(5.5)
DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP DNP
Bubba Watson
(105.17 pts)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP T26
(24)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Phil Mickelson
(104.33 pts)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(37.33)
T55
(0)
T5
(35)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Adam Hadwin
(101.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T72
(0)
DNP T22
(18.67)
T36
(18.67)
DNP DNP DNP 6
(20)
DNP Win
(44)
Brian Gay
(96.67 pts)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the The Players Championship

Player Wells Fargo Championship Zurich Classic of New Orleans Volvo China Open Valero Texas Open Shenzhen International RBC Heritage Masters Shell Houston Open WGC-Dell Match Play Championship Puerto Rico Open Arnold Palmer Invitational Hero Indian Open Valspar Championship
Roberto Castro
(-60 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Vijay Singh
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Peter Malnati
(-36 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T44
(4)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Brett Stegmaier
(-34.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T44
(2)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Chris Kirk
(-33.33 pts)
T71
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T62
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Cameron Tringale
(-31.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T78
(0)
DNP T44
(2)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Matt Every
(-30 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP T65
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T62
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Scott Piercy
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Cody Gribble
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Patrick Rodgers
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

  • This could be a very interesting week, just like the Masters was.  You look at what has happened since Sergio Garcia won the Masters, those that have won aren’t what you would call household names.  Seems that four weeks between the Masters and the Players is time for a lot of players to take some time off.  We haven’t seen much of Sergio since his Masters win, Rory McIlroy got married a couple of weeks back and just started getting back into the swing of things a couple of days ago.  As for Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, they played in the Zurich, the partner event, but have not been seen much on the PGA Tour.  As for Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm, they played great last week in Wilmington and along with Patrick Reed and Paul Casey are showing signs that they could be ready to play well this week.
  • The Players Championship has gone through some remodeling should we say as three of the holes, 6, 7 and 12 have been changed.  A new lake has been created to the left of holes 6 & 7 that should make the holes harder to drive and tougher.  But the biggest changed came on the 12th hole.  For years this was probably the weakest hole on the course, it was a very short par 4 that on paper seemed like it should be a birdie hole but in most cases was just a simple par on the way to the finish.  It was a hole that most players just laid up off the tee and then hit a wedge to a small green surrounded by bunkers and hopefully they could make a birdie on.  Most of the time the hole took very little thinking, thus a very boring hole on a course loaded with excitement.  But the hole has changed and will be very striking.  They made the hole shorter and turned it into a drivable par 4, but you have to really think and take a gamble off the tee.  A new water hazard runs down the left side of the fairway and runs up to the green which is now built up so that if you miss it left, the ball will roll into the water and if you miss it right, will roll off into a collection area making the next shot very tough to get up and down from.  There is a long narrow bunker that is between the fairway and the water hazard that will catch drives too far left but avoid players from going into the water hazard.  So the drive will have to be precise if you are laying up.  Since the bunker stops 50 yards from the green, many will fly the bunker but again will not have much room and will be left with a tough chip shot.  It will create a lot of excitement and be more challenging, but more importantly turns a very weak hole into a great hole.
  • Another thing that will be talked about will be the possible change of the Players back to a March date.  The big advantage to doing that will be in order to make the course a lot tougher.  See the winds blow during March but in May they don’t blow as hard which makes the course easier.  The weather could also be chancy in May, with possible thunderstoms and heat, something you don’t see in March.  With the tour leaving Doral for Mexico, it has also make the Florida swing a time that more players take off as they just play the WGC event in Mexico and then the Match Play two weeks before the Masters.  So if they could move the Players to March and have another four week Florida swing, it would help that segment achieve what it use to have.  The problem with moving to March, it would again be know as just a tune-up for the Masters instead of being the best event in between the Masters and the U.S. Open.  Will the tour move it, nobody really knows but with the addition of the Olympics and the PGA Championship possibly changing to late May makes sense and will help the other Florida events.

Things you need to know about the Players Championship:

This week we have the crowing jewel of the PGA Tour, The Players. This is the 44rd edition of the Players Championship, which has been played at the TPC Stadium Course every year since 1982. Other than the four majors, it’s the fifth most important tournament in men’s professional golf.  In looking at the field the last couple of years only one other tournament in golf gets more top-100 ranked players, the PGA Championship.  For a tournament that is the crowning jewel of the PGA Tour it always attracts a great field.  The big news is what will be different for the players.  How will the course play this year?  Will it be firm and fast as officials hope.  Even with the wet weather over the last couple of weeks, officials feel they can get the course dry and fast for Thursday’s opening round. One thing that will be different this week, the wind will be up on Friday and Saturday with gusts in the 20 to 25 mph range, and it will be blowing around 10 mph on Thursday and Sunday.  It will be hot and muggy each day, with a possibly of rain on Saturday

Many may feel that it takes a lot of experience to win the Players, since the event moved to the Stadium course, 15 different players in their 20s have won, including last year’s champion Jason Day and 2015 winner Rickie Fowler.  The list is impressive: Jerry Pate in 1982, Hal Sutton in 1983, Fred Couples in 1984, Sandy Lyle in 1987, Jodie Mudd in 1990, Steve Elkington in 1991, Davis Love III in 1992, Justin Leonard in 1998, David Duval in 1999, Tiger Woods in 2001, Adam Scott in 2004, Sergio Garcia in 2008, Martin Kaymer in 2014, Fowler in 2015 and Day last year.  Need I also bring up that guys like Craig Perks, Fred Funk, Henrik Stenson and Tim Clark have also won so anything can happen this week.

Course information:

  • The Players Stadium Course
  • Ponte Vedra Beach, Fl.
  • 7,189 yards     Par 36-36–72
  • TPC Sawgrass features a course rating of 76.8 and a slope rating from the back tees of 155. The tees and fairways are Celebration bermudagrass while the rough is 419 bermudaGrass.  The greens is Mini Verde Ultrdwarf which has become very popular in the Southeast. The course was the 19th hardest course last year with a 72.05 average.  In 2015 it was 18th hardest course on the PGA Tour playing to an average of 72.08 and the 25th hardest course in 2014, playing to an average of 72.155, just over a tenth of a shot over par.  In 2013 Sawgrass was the 19th hardest course on the PGA Tour in 2013 playing to an average of 72.323, so just over a quarter of a shot over par.

                                    Rank compared to

Year  Scoring avg        other courses

2016       72.055                  19th

2015       72.083                 18th

2014       72.155                  25th

2013       72.323                 19th

2012       72.466                  19th

2011       72.000                 23rd

2010       71.804                 28th

2009       72.690                12th

2008       74.286                 6th

2007       73.248                12th

2006       73.529                 7th

2005       72.841                17th

2004       73.004               12th

2003       72.541                21st

2002       73.500               3rd

2001       73.536                3rd

2000       74.451               2nd

 

  • Between 1998 and 2006 TPC Sawgrass played to a 73.491 average.  After 2007 to the present the course played to a 72.503 average.  Why the three quarters of a shot difference?  Because the course changed from being played in March, the windy part of the year in Ponte Vedra to May which see’s calmer days.  So the course is playing a lot easier than when the event was played in March.
  • The course opened in 1981 and hosted The Players Championship in 1982.  That year the course was very “raw” with a lot of complaints from the players that the greens and landing areas had too much slope.  Winds in the early days didn’t help ease the pain of the mounds, but over the years improvements have made the course more “player-friendly”.
  • Over the years, the TPC Sawgrass has gone from a course the players didn’t care much about to one of the most loved, but toughest courses on Tour.  With the advent of the Players moving to May, the course went through an extensive renovation in 2007 in which all of the grass on the tees, fairways and greens were stripped off with a new drainage and irrigation system placed underneath. The greens were built with a sub-air system just like the one at Augusta National, which can control firmness in any weather conditions.
  • At the same time, 122 yards was added to the course and the rough is now Bermuda instead of rye.
  • With all of this, plus the new clubhouse, it gave the Players a new dimension in making it one of the best tournaments in the world, with the possibility of it one day being considered a major.
  • A couple of things to be know, the average green size is 4,500 which is small and makes the targets harder.  With small greens that places more emphasis on shotmaking, but you have to be good in getting it up and down.  Water is on all 18 holes, but for the pro’s only comes into play on 11 holes. There are a total of 92 bunkers around the course along with a lot of waste areas in the fairways.
  • One other thing, last year the course played to a yardage of 7,215.  But with the 12th being shorter it will now play at 7,189 yards.

A look at the winners of the Players:

30 have won the 35 Players Championship since the event moved to it’s permanent home of TPC Sawgrass.  Of those 30 players they have…

  • Played in 12,921 PGA Tour events in their careers
  • Won a total of $760.3 million dollars
  • With a total of $54.5 million being won at the Players
  • The 30 have won a total of 399 times on the PGA Tour
  • While 18 of the 30 won a total of 43 major championships
  • Six of the 30 are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame
  • Seven of the 29 winners spent a total of 1,139 weeks as world number one.
  • (Woods 683, Norman 311, Price 44, Couples 16, Duval 15, Scott 11, Kaymer 8 and Day 51 weeks)
  • Of the winners of the Players only two won their first event at the Players, Craig Perks and Tim Clark. For Perks it was his only win on the PGA Tour while Clark won again four years later.
  • Of the 30 winners, these eight did it on their second start: Adam Scott, Fred Couples, Hal Sutton, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Stephen Ames and Steve Elkington.
  • Only two made the Players their last PGA Tour victory: Jerry Pate and K.J. Choi

In talking about those that have won at the Players, it’s interesting to note that the new-breed of winners, those at the top of the world rankings seem to struggle at the Players.  Of the top-ten, only #4 Rickie Fowler, #6 Henrik Stenson and #7 Adam Scott have won at TPC Sawgrass.  Here is what has happened to the other seven:

Player                    Player starts Top-ten         missed cut  Best finish

Jordan Spieth             3                       1                      2                 T-4, 2014

Rory McIlroy               7                       3                      3                  T-6, 2014

Bubba Watson           9                       0                      3            T-37, 2009 & ‘13

Dustin Johnson          8                       0                      2                   T34, 2010

Danny Willett              2                       0                      2                Cut, 2015, ’16

Justin Rose               13                      1                      6                     T-4, 2014

Hideki Matsuyama      3                       1                     0                     T-7, 2016

Paul Casey                10                       1                      7                    T-10, 2004

Patrick Reed               3                        0                      2                   T-24, 2015

For more information on how TPC Sawgrass plays and which players have the key stats to play it well go to our Key Stats TPC Sawgrass page.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Players Championship:

Key stat for the winner:

Craig Perks blew the greatest stat the tournament had going for it with his win in 2002.  Before his victory, nobody had ever won the Players without a win on the PGA Tour.  On top of that since 1982 when the players switch to the Stadium course their have been 30 different winners with 18 of them winning 43 major championships. Still the fact is if the course is dry and firm without rain hampering it the cream always rises to the top.   Just look at the list of champions at TPC Sawgrass, Sutton, Couples, Kite, Love, Norman, Leonard, Garcia, Duval, Mickelson, Day and Woods. Not a bad list.  But the one thing they have in common is firm and fast conditions so if that happens this year look for a marquee winner.  Oh Craig Perks has some company as Tim Clark became the second player to win for the first time at the Players Championship.

Totally useless stat:

  • One of the biggest oddities of The Players Championship is the fact that nobody has ever repeated as champion. If you go back and look at all the tournaments that started before 1998, the only other one like this is was the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee which is no longer played.  Six players have won this event multiple times, but none in consecutive years. Nicklaus is the only three-time winner (1974, 1976, 978). Two-time winners include Tiger Woods (2001, 2013), Steve Elkington (1991, 1997), Hal Sutton (1983, 2000), Fred Couples (1984, 1996) and Davis Love III (1992, 2003).
  • The most unusual winner of the Players has to be Sandy Lyle who won it in a playoff in 1987.  We say unusual because of his 13 starts he only made three cuts, his win in 1987, a T74th in 1994 and a T70th in 1997.  Now Craig Perks only made two cuts in six tries but after winning the 2002 Players he finished T17th the next year.  Also have to add last year’s winner Jason Day to this list.  In five tries before he won last year he missed the cut three times.

So what does it take to win at the Players?

  • Going back to 2000, every winner but five has been in the top-10 of greens hit category and five of them have led (Sergio Garcia-2008, Stephen Ames-2006, Fred Funk-2005, Adam Scott-2004, Hal Sutton-2000). In 2012 Matt Kuchar was T3rd in hitting 53 of the 72 greens, in 2013 Tiger Woods was also T3rd hitting 55 of 72 greens.  In 2014 Martin Kaymer also finished 3rd, hitting 54 of 72 greens. In 2015 Rickie Fowler had the worst greens hit performance of any champion going back to 1997, he hit only 45 of 72 greens and ranked T-51st.  Last year Jason Day hit 52 of 72 greens and ranked T-15th.
  • Great putting is a must for the week. The greens are always tough and fast and historically players have had a tough time making putts inside of ten feet.  In looking at the rankings, last year TPC Sawgrass was the 5th hardest course in making putts inside of ten feet with an average of 85.92%. In the past, number of putts hasn’t been the key as between 2004 and 2010 nobody was in the top-ten in number of putts made. K.J. Choi broke that streak finishing T6th in 2011 with only 108 putts, while Kuchar was T5th in 2012 with 110 putts.  In 2013 Tiger Woods was T35th taking 114 putts while in 2014 Martin Kaymer also took 114 putts which ranked T38th.  In 2015 Rickie Fowler was T-2nd taking only 106 putts, while last year Jason Day was T-3rd taking just 107 putts.
  • Scrambling is important, no matter how well a player does he will still miss greens and have to be able to get it up and down to win.  Last year TPC Sawgrass was the 9th hardest course to get it up and down as the field averaged getting it up and down 54.72%, with Day leading the scrambling stat getting it up and down 85% of the time.  There are a lot of tough chips on this course and it will take a lot of chip and runs instead of pitching it in the air.
  • As of right now there are are 18 first-time participants at this year’s Players Championship. Five of this season’s PGA Tour winners, Wesley Bryan (RBC Heritage), Cody Gribble (Sanderson Farms Championship), Mackenzie Hughes (RSM CLassic), Jon Rahm (Farmers Insurance) and Cameron Smith (Zurich Classic) headlining the group. Several additional international players, including Tommy Fleetwood & Tyrrell Hatton (England), Yuta Ikeda (Japan), Cameron Smith (Australia), Jon Ram (Spain), Michael Kim (South Korea), Tyrone Van Aswegen (South Africa) and Alex Noren (Sweden), will also make their first appearance at The Players. Others to visit TPC Sawgrass to compete for the first time include Blayne Barber, Patrick Cantlay, Mark Hubbard, Luke List, Grayson Murray and Brett Stegmaier
  • Lastly the last three holes are the most talked over holes in golf.  They all represent their own challenges, problems and drama as water plays a prominent role.  Between 2003 and 2016, 1,713 balls have gotten wet on the three holes, compare this to holes 1 thru 15 that have had a total of 1,643 balls in the water.  The 18th has the most with 636, the 17th has seen 634 go in the water while the 16th has seen 443 balls in the water.  So in doing the math, these three holes have been played 6,112 times with 1,713 in the water for a 28.0% average.  So the chances of getting your ball wet on those holes on any given round is a shade over 3 in 10.  Last year 36 balls went into the water on the 17 hole.

Here is how the last eight winners of the Players did on the final three holes in their final rounds:

 

Year – Player                    16th hole    17th hole     18th hole

2007 – Phil Mickelson          Par               Par               Bogey

2008 – Sergio Garcia            Par               Par                 Par

2009 – Henrik Stenson        Birdie            Par                 Par

2010 – Tim Clark                   Par               Par                Par

2011 – K.J. Choi                    Par              Birdie            Par

2012 – Matt Kuchar             Birdie            Bogey            Par

2013 – Tiger Woods             Birdie              Par              Par

2014 – Martin Kaymer            Par               Par               Par

2015 – Rickie Fowler            Eagle            Birdie          Birdie

2016 – Jason Day                 Birdie             Par              Par

Since hole by hole records have been kept, here is a summary on how the winners fared on the final three holes in the final round:

  • 16th hole – Winner has never made higher than a par, with four eagles (last was Rickie Fowler last year), 11 birdies (last was Jason Day last year) and 18 pars
  • 17th hole – Winner has birdied the hole ten times (last was Rickie Fowler last year), par has been made 21 times and three bogeys on the hole (last was Matt Kuchar in 2012).
  • 18th hole – Only four times has the winner birdied 18, Sandy Lyle in 1987, Steve Elkington in both 1991 & ’97 and Rickie Fowler in 2015.  22 times has the winner made par while 8 times the champion made bogey, the last being Phil Mickelson in 2007.
  • Here is a look at how the last eight winners of the Players have done on 16, 17 and 18 in their winning years:

Year – Player                                16th hole          17th hole       18th hole

                                                       Avg to par      avg to par      avg to par

2007 – Phil Mickelson                       4.00 -4       3.00 Even        4.00   Even

2008 – Sergio Garcia                         4.25 -3        3.75 +3            4.25   +1

2009 – Henrik Stenson                      4.75 -1       3.00  Even        4.25   +1

2010 – Tim Clark                               4.50  -2      3.00   Even       4.00   Even

2011 – K.J. Choi                               4.75 -1        2.75   -1            3.75    -1

2012 – Matt Kuchar                          4.50 -2        3.25 +1            4.00 Even

2013 – Tiger Woods                         4.00 -4         3.00 Even          4.25 +1

2014 – Martin Kaymer                     5.00 Even     2.75  -1             4.25 +1

2015 – Rickie Fowler                        4.50  -2       2.25  -3             3.75  -1

2016 – Jason Day                             4.50 -2        3.00 Even         4.00  Even

Who to watch for at the The Players Championship

Best Bets:

Dustin Johnson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T28 T69 T59 WD T57 T34 T79 CUT

Yes his record is poor in this event, but he is playing so well right now not much can beat him. He is the closes we have ever seen play this week since Tiger Woods. It will be very hard not to pick him.

Sergio Garcia

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T54 T2 3 T8 T56 T12 T47 T22 Win 2 T14 T32

We will see a new Sergio, bubbling with confidence after his Masters victory. Does play well on this course and has a good record on it.

Hideki Matsuyama

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T7 T17 T23

He is getting really good at getting ready to play well in the marquee events. Played well last year, fell it will carry over to this year.

Best of the rest:

Rory McIlroy

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T12 T8 T6 T8 CUT CUT CUT

Just got married two weeks ago, think he is in a good place right now with his life and that will carry over to some good play.

Jordan Spieth

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT CUT T4

Yes he has missed the cut last two years, but he did play well in 2014 and if he putts well will do good this week.

Rickie Fowler

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT Win T77 CUT T2 CUT CUT

Another that shows he can play this course well.

Justin Thomas

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T3 T24

This is a perfect course for him to play well on and he did well on the course last year, look for him to contend this week.

Jon Rham

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Another that is doing well and has all of the key stats to play well this week. Yes he is a rookie but that shouldn’t stop you from picking him.

Justin Rose

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T19 CUT T4 CUT T51 T45 CUT T22 CUT CUT CUT

Hard to leave him out of the mix, his game is that good and he could win at any time.

Solid contenders

Francesco Molinari

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T7 T6 CUT CUT CUT 9

Could be the most underrated player in the game right now, I can see him winning, he was T-7th last year and T-6th in 2014.

Patrick Reed

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T24 CUT

Think his game is coming along and he is ready to play well the next couple of weeks.

Kevin Chappell

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
2 CUT T26 T68 CUT T69

Like him a lot, he was runner-up last year and playing well right now.

Brooks Koepka

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T35 CUT

His game is coming around, only a matter of time before he brings through, could be this week.

Paul Casey

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T23 WD WD CUT CUT T14 CUT CUT CUT

Game is coming around and he can easily win here.

Matt Kuchar

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T3 CUT T17 T48 Win T54 T13 T14 CUT

Always finds a way to play good during this week.

Phil Mickelson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT CUT CUT CUT T25 T33 T17 T55 T21 Win T14 T40

You can’t ever leave him out because you never know when he will get it together.

Long shots that could come through:

Pat Perez

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T17 T48 CUT T25 CUT CUT T68 T42 CUT T3 T32

Lots of people will forget about him but he is the type of guy that can overpower and do well at TPC Sawgrass.

Cameron Smith

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Playing for the first time, this guy has done some great things over the last year and not many folks realize how good this youngster really is.

Alex Noren

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Could be the best European player right now, playing for the first time but could be around for the weekend.

Tommy Fleetwood

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Another Players rookie that could do damage this week.

Sorry, havent’ forgotten about him but there is a reason he is down here

Jason Day

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
Win CUT T19 CUT T6 CUT

Defending champion that has a lot of problems, both physical and mental. Just don’t see him doing well right now, has to work on all of his problems.

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