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BlogThe Players Championship Preview and Picks

The Players Championship

March 14th – 17th, 2019

TPC Sawgrass

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Par: 72 / Yardage:

Purse: $12.5 million

with $2,250,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Webb Simpson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 81 of the top 100 in the latest Official World rankings and 51 of the top 51.  So this will be the best field of any 2019 event and the best since last year’s PGA Championship when 97 of the top-100 played.  Now in the history of The Players Championship since 2000 it’s only had 50 of the top-50 playing and that was in 2005.  That same year saw the most players in the top-100 participate, in 2005 82 of the top-100 played.  Now, of course, we have to realize that players like Tiger Woods and Jason Day could withdraw at any time, even Phil Mickelson has said he may withdraw from the event before it starts.

Last year 49 of the top-50 played in the event

The field includes all 50 of the top 50 on the FedEx point standings for 2019.

The field includes 11 past champions: Webb Simpson (2018), Si Woo Kim (2017), Jason Day (2016), Rickie Fowler (2015), Martin Kaymer (2014), Tiger Woods (2013 & ’01), Matt Kuchar (2012), Henrik Stenson (2009), Sergio Garcia (2008), Phil Mickelson (2007) and Adam Scott (2004).

All winners on the PGA Tour since The Players in 2016 will be in the field this week except for 2017 Barracuda winner Chris Stroud.  23 of the players that have won the last 31 majors and Players are in the field.

A total of 22 first-time Players Championship participants will play Abraham Ancer, Lucas Bjerregaard, Bronson Burgoon, Cameron Champ, Wyndham Clark, Corey Conners, Joel Dahmen, Tyler Duncan, Talor Gooch, Sungjae Im, Adam Long, Denny McCarthy, Eddie Pepperell, J.T. Poston, Seamus Power, Andrew Putnam, Sam Ryder, Sam Saunders, Martin Trainer, Peter Uihlein, Matt Wallace, Aaron Wise.  Of those Champ(Sanderson Farms), Long (Desert Classic), Putnam (Barracuda), Wise (AT&T Byron Nelson) and Trainer (Puerto Rico) have won on the PGA Tour since last year’s Players.

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 the 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 Arnold Palmer Honda Classic WGC Mexico Puerto Rico Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Saudi Farmers Dubai Desert Desert Classic Abu Dhabi Sony Open
Dustin Johnson
(330.67 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(198)
DNP T9
(30)
T45
(3.33)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Rory McIlroy
(286.67 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP 2
(150)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ian Poulter
(257.67 pts)
T23
(27)
DNP T3
(135)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP T6
(20)
T33
(5.67)
Justin Thomas
(225.5 pts)
DNP T30
(20)
9
(67.5)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
Rickie Fowler
(219 pts)
T40
(10)
T2
(100)
T36
(21)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(215 pts)
DNP DNP T3
(135)
DNP T25
(16.67)
2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Keith Mitchell
(186.67 pts)
T6
(60)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
73
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
Francesco Molinari
(181.5 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(181.5 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP T19
(46.5)
DNP T25
(16.67)
T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP
Sergio Garcia
(170.33 pts)
DNP T9
(45)
T6
(90)
DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP DNP DQ
(-3.33)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP DNP DNP
Tommy Fleetwood
(168.5 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP T19
(46.5)
DNP T28
(14.67)
T45
(3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP
Lucas Glover
(162.67 pts)
T10
(40)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP
Charles Howell III
(161 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP T14
(54)
DNP 6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(10)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP T8
(16.67)
Matt Wallace
(153.5 pts)
T6
(60)
T20
(30)
T33
(25.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Kiradech Aphibarnrat
(150 pts)
T23
(27)
CUT
(-10)
T3
(135)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T33
(11.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(146.83 pts)
T33
(17)
DNP T19
(46.5)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
Bubba Watson
(140.83 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP T27
(34.5)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Brooks Koepka
(139.5 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T2
(100)
T27
(34.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(15)
DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(139.17 pts)
2
(100)
DNP T27
(34.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Sungjae Im
(137.33 pts)
T3
(90)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
T7
(36.67)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP T16
(11.33)
Jason Kokrak
(134.33 pts)
T10
(40)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP T20
(10)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP
Martin Trainer
(133.33 pts)
T66
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T73
(0)
Matt Kuchar
(132.17 pts)
DNP DNP 50
(1.5)
DNP T28
(14.67)
T22
(18.67)
T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
Aaron Baddeley
(131 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP T2
(100)
T49
(0.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP
Phil Mickelson
(129.83 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T39
(16.5)
DNP T37
(8.67)
Win
(88)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP
Cameron Smith
(128.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T6
(90)
DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
Patrick Cantlay
(125 pts)
DNP DNP T6
(90)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP DNP
Bryson DeChambeau
(124.67 pts)
T46
(4)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
Gary Woodland
(115.17 pts)
DNP T36
(14)
T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP DNP DNP 80
(0)
Michael Thompson
(114.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T16
(34)
DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
T10
(26.67)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP T69
(0)
Marc Leishman
(112.67 pts)
T23
(27)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
Haotong Li
(112.5 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T19
(46.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Xander Schauffele
(112.33 pts)
DNP DNP T14
(54)
DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jon Rahm
(107.5 pts)
DNP DNP T45
(7.5)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP 6
(20)
DNP DNP
Wyndham Clark
(107.33 pts)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP T35
(5)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Arnold Palmer Honda Classic WGC Mexico Puerto Rico Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Phoenix Open Saudi Farmers Dubai Desert Desert Classic Abu Dhabi Sony Open
Michael Kim
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Brice Garnett
(-31 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
Bronson Burgoon
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T59
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Tom Hoge
(-29.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T55
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
T44
(4)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Kyle Stanley
(-27.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
Seamus Power
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T64
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Kevin Tway
(-24.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Richy Werenski
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T78
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Satoshi Kodaira
(-23.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T51
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 72
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Andrew Landry
(-22.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

The big talk this week will be the change coming as the Players will move back into March.  When the event moved to May in 2007, there were several good reasons for the move.  The first was whether, March gets rainy at times, and it’s always windy so by moving to May they got better, warmer weather but also lack of wind.  That was problematic because TPC Sawgrass and the finishing holes play a lot better with more drama when the wind is blowing, and there were several Players in the last 12 years in which conditions were stagnant, thus the lack of excitement.  The tour was also looking to get away from being the event before the Masters which they felt meant less billing.  The two things that they got right, yes the weather was a lot warmer and lacked rain.  The event also made May a lot more exciting, but that came at the expense of the Byron Nelson and Colonial which lost some of there luster the last 12 years.  As for the condition of the course, it was perfect; the only difference is that Bermuda will get overseeded with rye, which will give the course a much greener look.  But for the PGA Tour and players the Florida swing will be better as there will be four straight events played in Florida, starting with the Honda, then the Arnold Palmer, Players, and Valspar.

But the most important element of the move will be the weather, March has more wind than May and as many people have said, TP Sawgrass was built with the Players in mind and wind blowing.  Another important element will be the finish, with wind look for exciting finishes on the 17th and 18th holes.  As for the position before the Masters, it’s now three weeks before instead of two which will make the Players have more of an identity as a big tournament.  Still, the Masters is the Masters and everyone will be looking forward to the Masters.

Francesco Molinari winning

I don’t know what to say about Francesco Molinari win at the Arnold Palmer.  If you look at my pick your pro for this year, Molinari’s my top pick for this week’s Players, so I was a week late.  We have seen him play well in Florida, in 23 starts in Florida he had eight top-ten finishes with the best coming at the WGC-Mexico event in 2011 when it was played at Doral.  So we know that he has the game to play on Bermuda and in Florida, but honestly, something through me off in looking at everything last week.  First, at the Palmer in six starts he wasn’t worse than a T-34th in 2013, but at the same time, he was T-5th in 2015, T-7th in 2017 and T-9th in 2016.  But while looking at that was concerned about two things.  First, he hadn’t played well since finishing T-8th at the BMW Championship in September.  Molinari spent most of the winter doing nothing, just kicking back and enjoying everything that he achieved over the summer.  At the beginning of the year, he played for the first time in Hawaii at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and was a bit rusty.  At the same time, he realized that he was in the midst of a drastic change, dumping his Taylor Made clubs for a switch to Callaway.  He was going to start playing with them at the Genesis, but he got very sick with the flu and wasn’t able to play in L.A.  He started playing with Callaway’s in Hawaii, but didn’t like them.  So the folks at Callaway had a special set that was forged in Japan with a different satin finish and muscle pad shaping.  According to Golf.Com the clubs arrived on Monday and he loved them putting them in play in Mexico.  According to Golf.Com the set are very rare, only three of them were made.  He finished T-17th in Mexico and basically we didn’t know much of the information other than Molinari took a lot of time off in the winter, He was in the midst of changing all of his clubs, he had the flu in February and he didn’t play that great in Hawaii or Mexico.  We never thought much of Molinari when he shot 69-70-73 and entered the final round five shots back of leader Matthew Fitzpatrick.  But from his opening birdie at the first hole when he made a 20 footer, things looked different.  He missed the green at 2 and made an 11-footer for par.  At 3 he made a 7 footer for birdie and you can see where this was leading.  To cut to the chase, over the 18 holes the shortest putt he missed was a 16-foot birdie putt at the 7th hole.  In his round, he had 24 putts as he made 146 feet of putts.  To show you how amazing that is, runner-up Matthew Fitzpatrick made 135 feet of putts on Saturday and Sunday.  Fitzpatrick played in the final group with Rory McIlroy and the two of them on Sunday only had 112 feet of putts.  Tommy Fleetwood, who finished T-3rd had 161 feet of putts, but that was for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  So you can see the key for Molinari was his putter which included a 43 footer on 18 for birdie which put the finishing touches on the win.  Now in looking at Molinari’s wins over the summer and at the Palmer, one thing comes to mind.  Molinari loves to come from behind with a spectacular final round.  At the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour in May, Molinari was in the final group and shot 68 to win two shots.  A couple of months later, Molinari went into the final round tied for the lead at the Quicken Loans and shot 62 to win by 8 shots.  Three weeks later at Carnoustie, Molinari went into the final round of the Open 3 shots back but shot a final round 69 to win by 2 shots.  So while Rory McIlroy (who is 0 for 9 playing in the final group of Sunday over the last 52 weeks) has his problems in the final round, Molinari is the opposite and finds gold and is very steady.

With the win, Molinari is showing that he is the real thing.  A week ago he was way down everyone’s list of favorites at the Masters, but this win has seriously elevated him.  It also brings up another item, this week at the Players.  Molinari has played great in the past at TPC Sawgrass and he has to be one of the favorites.  So he now joins the storyline of some great favorites leading to the Masters between him, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, and Brooks Koepka.

Some thoughts on Tiger and Jason Day

Lot’s of disappointment when Tiger Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer on Monday, due to neck pain.  The good news, it made his fan base aware of what was up with him and for those that play games like DraftKings they didn’t have to think about picking him.  Woods was at TPC Sawgrass on Monday and told writers that he felt good and the neck shouldn’t be a problem.  According to GolfWeek, he said that the neck was uncomfortable playing in Mexico and received treatment before and after each round.  He also wore some tape on his upper back and said, “I could feel it,” in Mexico, Woods told Steve DiMegilo of his neck injury. “It wasn’t fun. I couldn’t make a backswing. I couldn’t make a follow through. I couldn’t make a complete swing.”

Woods is going to have a press conference on Tuesday and we may get more from him, but the question for everyone is he a good choice for this week?  He may have gotten around in Mexico to a T-10th finish, but is he 100%?  Doubtful.  The one thing about Tiger, he is never 100% forthcoming in telling the media and fans the true story.  And there are a lot of doctors out there that say that a neck injury is nothing that you rest up and rehab for a couple of weeks and play great again.  So for me Tiger is not an option, despite what he will say on Tuesday.

Now Jason Day who is a different story.  Now I start this out with someone that I ran into at Santa Anita race track 35 years ago.  His name is Chuck who was a regular at Santa Anita,  He was a degenerate gambler who was always neatly dressed, always wore a jacket with a tie and I think he used bourbon as his cologne.  One day we were at the Padlocks watching the horses walk to the track and turned around at me and said some of the greatest words I had ever heard.  “Sal,” he said.  “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk with a horse and ask him how he felt before a race?’  “He could tell us if he was feeling great and ready to race or if he just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to run.”  How true Chuck was and I started to realize that no matter what a horses past was like since we didn’t know how the horse was we really couldn’t judge whether we wanted to pick him or not.  One of the big advantages of golf, we can see how players feel and if they are ready to play.  But honestly we will never realize the truth at times and we saw this with Day last week.  For Day his game and health were ok but the Sunday before the Arnold Palmer Day had problems getting up.  He practiced hard at TPC Sawgrass from Tuesday through Saturday, but on Sunday he couldn’t walk or sit down.  On Monday he traveled to Orlando and had an MRI that revealed a tear in his L4-L5 discs.  Now I am no doctor and don’t know how serious this is, but when Day didn’t play on Tuesday and withdrew from Wednesday’s pro-am, normally these items get some reporter to write a story or at least have a brief note on it.  But nobody picked it up and Day was one of the favorites in fantasy sports games.  I never heard of anything wrong with Day and just like everybody else wasn’t privy to Day’s plight and I not only endorsed Day but also had him in several of my DraftKings games.  So you can see how I and probably a lot of you felt a bit upset when Day played a couple of holes and withdrew.

This set off a firestorm of angry tweets, blogs and conversation on if Day should of said something of his plight.  Will Gray of Golf Channel talked with some players who voiced their opinion on the subject:

Kevin Kisner:

“I mean, are we out here to gamble, or are we out here to play golf? I don’t really give a s*** about the DFS guys. You should have picked someone else. If he had shot 65 and he had a hurt back, those guys wouldn’t have said anything.”

Jimmy Walker:

“I’m not saying that anyone did anything malicious, but yeah, it’s a bigger deal,” said Walker. “There might have been a head-to-head with Jason today, and if a few people know that he’s probably not feeling good, people need to know that. It’s a big deal. There’s a lot of money out there.”

I feel more like Walker, yes Day has the right to say nothing but he is part of the entertainment.  Take gambling away from the equation, think of the fans that bought tickets to watch Day play and showed up on Thursday.  Or how about the fan that was going to watch him play on Friday if he knew Day wasn’t playing maybe he wouldn’t have gone if he knew in advance.

Still, the big question is if we, whether we are a gambler or simply a fan has the right to find out this information if the player doesn’t want people to know.  This is a tough question and brings me back to that day at Santa Anita and being told about how great it would be if we only know how the horse felt.

As for Day he was seen practicing at TPC Sawgrass on Monday morning and told USA Today writer Steve DiMeglio that his back was feeling much better.  But I have to wonder how many of you will back Day this week or anytime in the coming weeks know that he has a tear in his discs in his back and at any time it could flare up and bother him.

The season is almost half over 

It may be early March but we are playing the 20th of 46 events on tour for the year.  So it’s hard to believe that the golf year is halfway over.  Over the course of the next 24 weeks along with this weeks players, we have four majors to play, along with two more WGC events and three FedEx Cup playoffs so I guess it’s easy to say this is the start of the really big events on the PGA Tour.

Things you need to know about the Players Championship:

This week we have the crowning jewel of the PGA Tour, The Players. This is the 46th edition, 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.  The big news about changing the date of the event is what will be different for the players.  How will the course play this year?  Will it be firm and fast as officials hope?  The weather has been pretty dry over the last couple of weeks, so officials shouldn’t have any trouble with getting the course fast. One thing that will be different this week, the wind will be low right around the 12 mph figure which is low for March.  So look for low scores as Thursday and Friday will be perfect, with rain moving in for the weekend which will soften up the course.

Many may feel that it takes a lot of experience to win the Players. Since the event moved to the Stadium course, 16 different players in their 20s have won, including 2017 champion Si Woo Kim, 2016 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, Day in 2016 and Kim in 2017.  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 are Mini Verde Ultrdwarf which has become very popular in the Southeast. The course played to a 71.41 average last year and was T28th toughest course on tour.  The year before it was the 5th hardest course on tour playing to a 73.29 average.  In 2016 it was the 19th hardest course with a 72.05 average.  In 2015 it was the 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

  • 2018       71.409      29th
  • 2017       73.289       5th
  • 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
  • 1999       74.642      3rd
  • 1998       73.375      7th

Between 1998 and 2006 TPC Sawgrass played to a 73.491 average.  After 2007 to the present the course played to a 72.484 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 sees calmer days.  So the course was 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 most robust 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 know, the average green size is 4,500 which is small and makes the targets harder.  With small greens that place more emphasis on shotmaking, but you have to be useful 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 and in 2017 the course played to a yardage of 7,189 which is 26 yards shorter than in 2016 before the 12th hole got changed.

A look at the winners of the Players at TPC Sawgrass:

32 have won the 37 Players Championship since the event moved to its permanent home of TPC Sawgrass.  Of those 32 players they have….

  • Played in 13,602 PGA Tour events in their careers
  • Won a total of $841,086 million
  • With a total of $60.7 million being won at the Players
  • The 32 have won a total of 411 times on the PGA Tour
  • While 18 of the 32 won a total of 43 major championships
  • Seven of the 32 are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame
  • Seven of the 32 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 32 winners, these nine did it on their second start: Adam Scott, Fred Couples, Hal Sutton, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Stephen Ames, Steve Elkington, and Si Woo Kim.
  • Only three made the Players their last PGA Tour victory: Jerry Pate, K.J. Choi and last year’s winner Webb Simpson

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 #6 Rickie Fowle and #6 Jason Day have won at TPC Sawgrass.  Here is what has happened to the other eight:

Player                                    Player starts    Top-ten       missed cut       Best finish

  • #1 Dustin Johnson                    10                    0                  2                   T-12, 2017
  • #2 Justin Rose                          15                    1                  6                    T-4, 2014
  • #3 Brooks Koepka                      4                    0                  1                   T-11, 2018
  • #4 Justin Thomas                       4                    1                  0                    T-3, 2016
  • #5 Bryson DeChambeau            1                     0                  0                 T-27, 2018
  • #6 Rory McIlroy                          9                     3                  4                   T-6, 2014
  • #7 Francesco Molinari                8                     4                  4          T-6, 2014 & ’17
  • #8 Xander Schauffele                 1                     1                  0                   T-2, 2018
  • #9 Richie Fowler                         9                     2                  5                Won, 2015
  • #10 Jon Rahm                            2                     0                   0               T-63, 2018

 

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at TPC Sawgrass.

This is based on the most important stats for TPC Sawgrass, based on data from last years Players Championship, and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2019. What we do is take their rank for each stat and then add up the four categories.
The scoring average of the field last year was 71.27, three-quarters of a shot under par making it the 30th hardest course on the PGA Tour. This is one of the reasons the course is changing from May to March, last year the conditions couldn’t be better, temperatures between the mid-80s to low 90s, but very calm winds that never got above 12 mph. In 2017 the scoring average at the TPC Sangria’s was 73.18, a shot and a quarter over par, making the course the 5th hardest course to score on in 2017. Because of winds averaging 20 mph on the weekend, that is the reason it was a full shot over the 72.05 average in 2016. So we can see one of the things that makes TPC Sawgrass unique, weather and wind. It’s about a mile from the Atlantic and if the wind blows, it plays tough. The course architect Pete Dye said many times over the last 35 years that one thing he kept in the back of his mind in designing the holes was the March winds Each hole is challenging with water on every one of them, but water becomes a hazard on 12 holes, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9,11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17 and 18. Bunkering is also hard along with chipping as most of the greens are raised so a shot missing a green is an adventure getting it up and down.
Between the first year, it was played at TPC Sawgrass in 1982 and 2006, it was played in March when conditions were totally different, due to higher winds and cooler weather. When the dates changed from 2007 to May, winds decreased and it was a lot warmer. You could say that the change of dates made the event play easier because of the lack of wind. So with the tournament moving back to March, look for drastically different conditions. In looking at the long range forecast for this week, it’s going to be dry on Thursday and Friday, but showers will move in for the weekend. As for the winds look for it to be steady at around 15 mph each day.

Still how much did the change of date cause the course to play differently? The winners have been pretty consistent as in most years hitting greens is very important. Between 1997 and 2006, seven of the ten winners were in the top-ten in greens hit, with four of them leading that stat. Since the change to May, of the 12 winners six of the winners have been in the top-ten with only one, Sergio Garcia leading in greens hit. Last year Webb Simpson was T-5th, but most of the time in May dates it wasn’t that important.
In looking at our four categories, we have seen Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green as very important. Yes, it was T-15th last year and T-11th on tour in 2017 but in 2016 it was T-2nd on tour so we pick that as the key stat. In looking at our past winners, last year Webb Simpson was 16th, but in 2017 Si Woo Kim was 2nd in this win while in 2016 Jason Day was 3rd. In 2015 Rickie Fowler won ranking 5th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green. In 2014 winner Martin Kaymer was 2nd in this stat while 2013 champion Tiger Woods was 1st. So you can see that Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green is very important in winning at the Players as proven in the five winners before Simpson won last year as they were no higher than 5th.
Next important stat is Proximity to hole. Last year it ranked 9th on tour with Simpson ranking 69th. In 2017 it ranked 2nd on tour with Kim finishing T-39th in that stat. In 2016 it ranked 14th on tour with champion Jason Day ranking T-50th in this stat. But in 2015 this stat was important in Rickie Fowler’s win, he was T-3rd while in 2014 Martin Kaymer was 46th while Tiger in 2013 was T-23rd. Still, since it’s important to hit greens and get it close we feel the importance of this stat.
Our third important stat is scrambling, since it’s important to hit greens and hard to do this, you have to be able to get it up and down on the greens you miss. Last year the course was 7th hardest on tour while Simpson was 24th. In 2017 the course was 4th in this stat while the winner Si Woo Kim was 1st in scrambling. For 2016 the course ranked 9th in scrambling, while we see that winner Jason Day was 1st in this stat. In 2015 Rickie Fowler was 10th while in 2014 Martin Kaymer was 4th and Tiger Woods in 2013 was 6th. So you can see the importance of scrambling.
Our fourth stat is something that was very hard to pinpoint. That is because putting doesn’t show us much and there is nothing that catches our attention in playing the par 3s, par 4s and par 5s. But one thing that TPC Sawgrass does give up is a lot of birdies. Seems hard to believe since the course is so hard, but last year 1,754 birdies were made as only four of the 51 courses saw more birdies made. Webb Simpson made 23 which was T-2nd. In 2017, remember the course played very tough, it had 1,429 birdies made making it the 17th hardest of 50 courses. One thing to realize is that the field is 144 players, while most events have fields of 156 giving it more chances for more birdies But if you look at some of the other courses that have had more birdies, they aren’t as challenging as TPC Sawgrass so that is why making lot’s of birdies is important. Now total birdies are very misleading since some players like Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott haven’t played as many events as those that play week in and week our. So our fourth important stat is birdie average, which is the average birdies made for each of the rounds. In looking at the last six winners, Webb Simpson ranked T-2nd while in 2017 Si Woo Kim ranked T-34th while in 2016 Jason Day ranked T-2nd in birdie average, 2015 winner Rickie Fowler was T-1st, Martin Kaymer in 2014 was T-9th and Tiger in 2013 was T-15th.
But the big thing to think about this year, the course will play totally different with not only the change of dates but the grass, which will be overseeded with Rye will also create different challenges.

*Strokes Gained tee-to-green: Course may have only been 15th hardest on tour, but you need to hit it long and straight along with hitting lots of greens. So this is important to find a player that will do this

*Proximity to hole: Hitting greens is important, last year TPC Sawgrass ranked 35th, but in proximity to hole, which tells how close players get to the hole, Sawgrass ranked 9th as the players averaged getting it 39 feet away.

*Scrambling: The percent of the time a player misses the green in regulation, but still makes par or better.

*Birdie Average: Takes the number of birdies and multiplies it by the number of rounds so that we can see what the average of birdies are made per each round. Last year 1,754 birdies were made making it a 4.00 average per player.

Here are the 135 of 144 players from this year’s field with stats from 2019:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is the link to the other 124 players from the Players Championship

DraftKings tips

Of the 144 in the field, 122 have played at least once at TPC Sawgrass in The Players since 2010.

Here are the players with the most under par totals at The Players since 2010:

  • Adam Scott is 39 under in 34 rounds playing 9 years
  • Matt Kuchar is 37 under in 33 rounds playing 9 years
  • Zach Johnson is 33 under in 35 rounds playing 9 years
  • Sergio Garcia is 32 under in 36 rounds playing 9 years
  • Francesco Molinari is 27 under in 24 rounds playing 8 years
  • Jason Day is 26 under in 26 rounds playing 8 years
  • Tiger Woods is 26 under in 19 rounds playing 5 years
  • Kevin Na is 25 under in 22 rounds playing 7 years
  • Rory McIlroy is 23 under in 26 rounds playing 8 years
  • Martin Kaymer is 20 under in 34 rounds playing 9 years
  • Henrik Stenson is 19 under in 30 rounds playing 9 years
  • Justin Thomas is 19 under in 15 rounds playing 4 years
  • Rory Sabbatini is 19 under in 26 rounds playing 7 years
  • Ian Poulter is 17 under in 32 rounds playing 9 years
  • Jimmy Walker is 17 under in 30 rounds playing 9 years
  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello is 17 under in 10 rounds playing 3 years
  • Si Woo Kim is 17 under in 12 rounds playing 3 years
  • Hideki Matsuyama is 16 under in 18 rounds playing 5 years
  • Alex Noren is 14 under in 8 rounds playing 2 years
  • Xander Schauffele is 14 under in 4 rounds playing 1 years
  • Brooks Koepka is 13 under in 14 rounds playing 4 years
  • Charl Schwartzel is 13 under in 24 rounds playing 7 years
  • Justin Rose is 13 under in 30 rounds playing 9 years
  • Charley Hoffman is 12 under in 30 rounds playing 9 years
  • Chris Kirk is 12 under in 27 rounds playing 8 years
  • Dustin Johnson is 12 under in 29 rounds playing 8 years
  • Martin Laird is 12 under in 24 rounds playing 8 years
  • Webb Simpson is 12 under in 26 rounds playing 8 years

*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)

  • Alex Noren is 14 under playing 2 years (-1.75)
  • Rafael Cabrera-Bello is 17 under playing 3 years (-1.70)
  • Byeong Hun An is 9 under playing 2 years (-1.50)
  • Si Woo Kim is 17 under playing 3 years (-1.42)
  • Tiger Woods is 26 under playing 5 years (-1.37)
  • Kiradech Aphibarnrat is 8 under playing 2 years (-1.33)
  • Justin Thomas is 19 under playing 4 years (-1.27)
  • Adam Scott is 39 under playing 9 years (-1.15)
  • Kevin Na is 25 under playing 7 years (-1.14)
  • Patrick Cantlay is 9 under playing 2 years (-1.13)
  • Tommy Fleetwood is 9 under playing 2 years (-1.13)
  • Francesco Molinari is 27 under playing 8 years (-1.13)
  • Matt Kuchar is 37 under playing 9 years (-1.12)
  • Jason Day is 26 under playing 8 years (-1.00)
  • Zach Johnson is 33 under playing 9 years (-0.94)
  • Brooks Koepka is 13 under playing 4 years (-0.93)
  • Chesson Hadley is 11 under playing 4 years (-0.92)
  • Sergio Garcia is 32 under playing 9 years (-0.89)
  • Hideki Matsuyama is 16 under playing 5 years (-0.89)
  • Rory McIlroy is 23 under playing 8 years (-0.88)
  • Emiliano Grillo is 8 under playing 3 years (-0.80)
  • Rory Sabbatini is 19 under playing 7 years (-0.73)
  • Jordan Spieth is 10 under playing 5 years (-0.71)
  • Henrik Stenson is 19 under playing 9 years (-0.63)
  • Martin Kaymer is 20 under playing 9 years (-0.59)
Historical ParBreakers

Here is a look at those playing this week and who has made the most eagles and birdies:

So it makes sense that the top players on this list are guys that will make lot’s of points this week

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Dustin Johnson – $11,400
  • Justin Thomas – $11,100
  • Rory McIlroy – $10,800
  • Tiger Woods – $10,500
  • Justin Rose – $10,200
  • Brooks Koepka – $10,000
  • Rickie Fowler – $9,700
  • Jon Rahm – $9,500
  • Bryce DeChambeau – $9,300
  • Jason Day – $9,200
  • Sergio Garcia – $9,100
  • Xander Schauffele – $9,000

In the list above I can’t find much fault on anyone on this list, other than Tiger Woods and Jason Day who have been hurt.  Both are playing, but in the case of Day, have to think with a tear in his L4-L5 discs, this is like a bomb that could detonate at any time.  Tiger has struggled before with injuries and in some cases, like Mexico, you didn’t know he had a problem.  Still, have to think that both Tiger and Jason aren’t worth the money for the possibility of them not playing.  Just remember this, if you do take Tiger or Jason check to see if they are playing in the tournament.  You have until 7:30 on Thursday morning to make a change, the only problem both Jason and Tiger tee off late on Thursday so if they wake up funny there probably won’t be much time to change.  One other thing, if you pick Phil Mickelson he has said he could possibly withdraw, so watch that.

First on our list is Dustin Johnson at $11,400.  He has struggled on this course, his best finish is a T-12th and I know he is playing well but still, it’s hard to justify a high price for someone that has struggled.  Still, you never know with Johnson, he could surprise us all since he is doing so well, it’s your choice but I am not going to touch him.  Now Justin Thomas at $11,100 has some value to him, he came close to winning in 2016 and has been consistent.  Was having a great year before his T-30 at the Honda, still shouldn’t be worried about that he just got caught with one bad round.  Rory McIlroy at $10,800 will be another player that folks go to.  A word of caution, McIlroy has been a mixed bag at TPC Sawgrass, he has done well in some of them but last year did miss the cut.  Despite him not being totally in love with the course, have to say he is playing too good to not take him.  Just hope for us all he doesn’t have the same last round horror story in which he seems to struggle on Sunday’s.  Don’t have many words for Tiger Woods at $10,500 other than I will be watching and rooting for Tiger but won’t put a penny on him until we see the neck is 100%.  Have to say the same for Jason Day at $9,200, he is even worst than Tiger because he does have a ticking timebomb in his back that could go off at any time.  Justin Rose at $10,200 also doesn’t excite me, was T-63rd at the Palmer and other than a T-4th at the 2014 Players hasn’t put up great numbers at TPC Sawgrass.  Brooks Koepka at $10,000 I have to say I am ok with taking him, even though he missed the cut at the Palmer.  Yes was T-2nd at the Honda but hasn’t played that well since winning in Korea back in October, still he is worth a gamble this week.  Rickie Fowler at $9,700 is another person to be concerned about.  Is playing well right now, but it’s hard to look the other way at Rickie’s play at Ponte Vedra since his win in 2015.  Since missing the cut in 2016 and last year, was T-60th in 2017 some numbers that make picking him tougher.  Jon Rahm at $9,500 also brings some bad karma.  His game has been trending downward after great finished in the Desert Classic and Farmers, but the thing that really scares me is he hasn’t played that great at the Players.  We see the same trend with Bryson DeChambeau at $9,300.  He just hasn’t played great of late and didn’t bow us over with his T-37th debut last year, Bryson is a pass for me.  Wish I had better new on Sergio Garcia at $9,100, he has struggled at TPC Sawgrass the last three years since finishing runner-up in 2015 but he has played well this year and with the change of dates I think it fits in better for him and I will take him.  Same with Xander Schauffele at $9,000, his play this year has been good and steady and he was runner-up in his Players debut last year so of all the top players like him the best.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Lot’s of good prices in this range, right off the bat Tommy Fleetwood at $8,800 is worth it.  Played well last year at TPC Sawgrass and you can see his game getting better, he is a big yes for me.  Patrick Cantlay at $8,700 is also a good buy, his game is in a good place right now.  Love Francis Molinari at $8,600 and wondering why DraftKings made him such a bargain.  His production numbers for 8 years at TPC Sawgrass is very high and we know he is playing great right now after winning at the Palmer, yes I am taking him.  Defending champion Webb Simpson surprised us last year, his price at $8,500 is undervalued for his play this year and someone to think about.  Now I am still not happy at what Adam Scott did at the Honda by missing the cut, but at the price of $8,200 he is someone to think about.  Has a good record at TPC Sawgrass and does produce a lot of good numbers.  Matt Kuchar at $8,000 is a good pick, has played well this year before “Caddiegate” but with his good record at TPC Sawgrass and the fact that the caddie thing has died down, he can go back to thinking about winning again.  Henrik Stenson is $7,800 and a week ago I would have said not to touch him.  But with rounds of 66-69-71 to finish up at the Palmer he may have found his game so he could be a good pick for this week.  Ian Poulter is a great buy at $7,600, his numbers have been strong for the year and he plays well at TPC Sawgrass.

Are there any “Bargains” at the Players Championship?

Yes, there are and the biggest one is Rafael Cabrera-Bello at $7,400.  He has played well of late and has a good record in this event, one of those hidden gems.  Keegan Bradley at $7,400 is also a good catch.  The only problem he shot75-78 at the Palmer but look for him to snap out of it this week.  Still can’t believe that Lucas Glover hasn’t gone up in price.  This week he is $7,100 and if you look he has played well at TPC Sawgrass and he has finished in the top-ten in his last three starts.  Matthew Fitzpatrick at $6,900 is also a good price, remember how well he played last week look for that to carry over to this year.  Doesn’t take a 2 by 4 over the head to realize that Keith Mitchell at $6,800 could be the bargain of the week.  Says he loves Florida greens and has played great on them, look for the love to continue this week.  The same with Sungjae Im at $6,800, is making his Players debut like Mitchell is but is playing too good not to take him.  The same with Matt Wallace at $6,700, he played great last week and will do well this week.

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 there have been 32 different winners with 19 of them winning 44 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.  Talking about weird winners 2017 champion Si Woo Kim also goes down in the annals of the Players has a long shot winner.  He became the youngest winner at 21 years, 10 months and 16 days and he only had 61 career PGA Tour starts, the 2nd least of anyone to win the Players (Henrik Stenson won on his 44th PGA Tour career start).

Totally useless stat:

  • One of the most significant 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 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 2016 winner Jason Day to this list.  In five tries before he won he missed the cut three times.

So what does it take to win at the Players?

  • Going back to 2000, every winner but six have 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.  In 2016 Jason Day hit 52 of 72 greens and ranked T-15th, 2017 Si Woo Kim hit 45 of 72 greens (least of any champion since 1997) and ranked T-37th.  Last year Webb Simpson hit 55 of 72 greens and was T-5th.
  • Great putting is a must for the week. The greens are always tricky and fast; historically players have had a tough time making putts inside of ten feet.  In looking at the rankings, last year TPC Sawgrass was the T-14th hardest course in making putts inside of ten feet with an average of 87.02%. In the past, the 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 in 2016 Jason Day was T-3rd taking just 107 putts.  In 2017 Si Woo Kim kept the streak going as his 108 putts ranked T-3rd and last year Webb Simpson also had 108 putts which ranked T-4th
  • 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 7th hardest course to get it up and down as the field averaged getting it up and down 53.013%, with Webb Simpson finishing 24th.  But in 2017 SiWoo Kim and Jason Day in 2016 leading the scrambling stat getting it up and down 81.48 for Kim and 85% for Day.  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.
  • Lastly, the last three holes are the most talked about holes in golf.  They all represent their challenges, problems, and drama as water plays a prominent role.  Between 2003 and 2016, 1,585 balls have gotten wet on the three holes, compare this to holes 1 thru 15 that have had a total of 1,519 balls in the water.  The 17th has the most with 634; the 18th has seen 584 go in the water while the 16th has seen 403 balls in the water.  So in doing the math, these three holes have been played 5,664 times with 1,585 in the water for a 33.9% 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 34 balls went into the water on the 17 hole.

Who to watch for at the The Players Championship

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT T35 T12 T8 T6 T8 CUT CUT CUT

Playing the best coming into this week, one thing that bothers everyone is the fact that in the last year he has played in the final group 8 times and hasn’t been able to win. But we all know he is too good and at worst will back into a win.

Xander Schauffele

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T2

Played great last year and has done well in 2019, can’t see him not doing well this week.

Francis Molinari

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

This guy is showing he is very, very good. Yes he won last week but I can see him making it two in a row.

Best of the rest:

Justin Thomas

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T11 T75 T3 T24

Has some good finishes at TPC Sawgrass, having a good year he should do very well this week.

Dustin Johnson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T17 T12 T28 T69 T59 WD T57 T34 T79 CUT

We will see how well he really is playing, he has struggled on this course but his game is so good right now that nothing could stop him.

Tommy Fleetwood

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T7 T41

His game has steadily improved, he played great last year at TPC Sawgrass and can see him playing well again.

Sergio Garcia

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
70 T30 T54 T2 3 T8 T56 T12 T47 T22 Win 2

Hasn’t played well of late at TPC Sawgrass, but has won and finished runner-up and his game has been good in 2019.

Solid contenders

Adam Scott

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T11 T6 T12 T38 T38 T19 T15 CUT T26 CUT T54 T6

Has a lot of good finishes at TPC Sawgrass, thought his game was good but ran into a pot hole with a missed cut at Honda. Look for him to snap back from that.

Matt Kuchar

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T17 82 T3 CUT T17 T48 Win T54 T13 T14 CUT

Now that “Caddiegate” is over he can focus back on his game that was great before the caddie problem popped up.

Ian Poulter

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T11 T2 T57 T30 T65 CUT T25 T57 CUT 2 T21 T28

Still watching him, yes a bit disappointing at the Palmer but has solid numbers at TPC Sawgrass and could contend.

Keith Mitchell

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T77

This guy is still hot and says how much he loves playing on Bermuda, look for the good play to continue this week.

Henrik Stenson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T23 T16 CUT T17 T34 T5 T15 CUT CUT Win T10 T23

May of broken out of his slump last week, has a good record in this event including a win.

Long shots that could come through:

Lucas Glover

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T72 T6 CUT CUT CUT T50 3 CUT CUT CUT

This guy has had the best year of anyone that people don’t think about, gosh if he could only putt he would really rack up this year.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T17 T4 CUT

Played well of late and has a good record at TPC Sawgrass.

Matthew Fitzpatrick

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T46 CUT CUT

Showed a lot last week at the Palmer, could continue playing well this week.

Matt Wallace

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
First time playing in this event

Another European with a lot of upside and someone that could contend this week.

Webb Simpson

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
Win T16 T66 CUT T15 CUT T69 CUT CUT

He is playing good enough that he could replicate the same finish he had last year.

Not this week:

Tiger Woods

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T11 T69 Win T40 WD WD 8 T37

Sorry but have to see him playing ok with the neck problem, think he will be find but have to make sure.

Jason Day

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T5 T60 Win CUT T19 CUT T6 CUT

Am really worried about him not only this week but in the future. This disc tear is like a ticking time bomb that can go off at any time.

Justin Rose

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T23 T65 T19 CUT T4 CUT T51 T45 CUT T22 CUT

Just hasn’t shown us much in this event.

Brooks Koepka

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
T11 T16 T35 CUT

Feel the same, he just seems to struggle in events in Florida.

Rickie Fowler

2019 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07
CUT T60 CUT Win T77 CUT T2 CUT CUT

This guy could go in either direction, I am just worried that he could struggle this week. Who knows at the same time could win.

Comments

  1. Winning on the PGA Tour is very difficult and winning back to back weeks is even more difficult especially with a loaded field at TPC but in my “one & done” pool where we get to pick three golfers a week twice during the session I went with Molinari, Cantlay and Glover this week. We split the season into two sessions. First session goes from Sony Open to The Heritage. Of course I picked Rory last week and he’ll likely win this week (btw: great overview on Molinari and Rory at Arnold Palmer on Sunday round). Same thing already happened to me when I picked Phil and DJ the week before they won.

  2. Stuff like that always happens, in my pick your pro for 2019 that I did at the beginning of the year picked Molinari, for this week not last week. Always happens.

  3. Micahel M says:

    Took Rory in one and done league. Good play!

  4. I feel jealous for you Micahel.
    I used Rory in Mexico and he finished 2nd, can’t complain that he earned $1.1 million for that but nothing compared to your $2.25 million dollar score this week. That’s the reason you hold guys like Rory and Dustin for the Masters, Players and WGC events.

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