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BlogThe Players Championship Preview and Picks

The Players Championship

March 11th – 14, 2021

TPC Sawgrass

Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,189

Purse: $10.5 million

with $2,700,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Rory McIlroy

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

Just a note:  Last year the Players Championship looked like it was going to be played as they got through the first round.  But do to all of the changes across America, with MLB closing all spring training camps and the NBA putting a halt of Basketball, the powers to be at the PGA Tour decided after the first round to cancel the tournament.  Along with the Players being canceled, they also stopped the following three events, Valspar, WGC-Dell Match Play, and the Valero Texas Open.  The next morning Augusta National put out a statement that the Masters would be postponed, at the time they didn’t indicate a time.  Three months later the Tour started up again on June 11th with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas and since then there haven’t been any cancelations, until today when it was announced that the Canadian Open, which was supposed to be played the week before the U.S. Open, will be canceled for 2021 and return in 2022 after a two-year hiatus.

So this is for the Players Championship, remember there was no event held in 2020.

This week the field includes 81 of the top 100 in the lastest Official World rankings and 48 of the top 50.  Unfortunately, Matthew Wolff is not playing, he withdrew from the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession two weeks ago.  He didn’t cite a reason, but at the Farmers Insurance Open, he withdrew after the first round saying he injured his hand and it was painful in swinging.  He did play at Phoenix finishing T-36th and at the Genesis finishing T-64th.  Wolff has not said anything on why he isn’t playing or address if he is injured.  Also withdrawing on Sunday as Brooks Koepka, who cited a strained right knee which is a new problem for Koepka.  He has battled injuries to his left knee for the last 18 months, requiring multiple stemcell treatments to the knee and hip.  It was thought that things were good on that injury, he did win in Phoenix a month and a half ago.  Now he endured a problem with his neck at the WGC-Workday two weeks ago, but it seemed more of a distraction than an injury.  So we will have to wait and see what the deal is.

In 2019, 49 of the top-50 players in the event

The field includes all 48 of the top 50 on the FedEx point standings for 2021, #8 Brooks Koepka and #25 Matthew Wolff are not playing.

The field includes 10 past champions: Rory McIlroy (2019), Webb Simpson (2018), Si Woo Kim (2017), Jason Day (2016), Rickie Fowler (2015), Matt Kuchar (2012), Henrik Stenson (2009), Sergio Garcia (2008), Phil Mickelson (2007) and Adam Scott (2004).

All winners on the PGA Tour since the Charles Schwab restart event in June are in the field this week except for WM Phoenix winner Brooks Koepka.

A total of 31 will play in the Players Championship for the first time: Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Sam Burns, Cameron Davis, Dylan Frittelli, Lanto Griffin, Doug Ghim, Lanto Griffin, Scott Harrington, Harry Higgs, Bo Hoag, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Nate Lashley, Kyoung-Hoon Lee, Tom Lewis, Robert MacIntyre, Tyler McCumber, Maverick McNealy, Collin Morikawa, Sebastian Munoz, Matthew NeSmith, Joaquin Niemann, Henrik Norlander, Cameron Percy, Victor Perez, Doc Redman, Scottie Scheffler, Adam Schenk, Robby Shelton, Sepp Straka, Will Zalatoris and Xinjun Zhang.  The big number is due to the fact that there were no Players last year.

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 WGC-Workday Concession Puerto Rico Genesis Invitational Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi Inter. Farmers Insurance Dubai Desert Classic American Express Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C.
Viktor Hovland
(334 pts)
T49
(1)
T2
(150)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T31
(6.33)
Tony Finau
(320.33 pts)
DNP 14
(54)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
T2
(66.67)
DNP 4
(26.67)
DNP DNP T31
(6.33)
Max Homa
(287 pts)
T10
(40)
T22
(42)
DNP Win
(132)
T7
(36.67)
T42
(5.33)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Collin Morikawa
(241.67 pts)
DNP Win
(198)
DNP T43
(7)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T68
(0)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
T7
(18.33)
Jordan Spieth
(221.67 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP T15
(35)
T3
(60)
T4
(53.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(216.67 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP Win
(88)
T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Andrew Putnam
(211 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP T5
(70)
T32
(18)
T55
(0)
T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Xander Schauffele
(208.17 pts)
DNP T39
(16.5)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
Bryson DeChambeau
(203.67 pts)
Win
(132)
T22
(42)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
Rory McIlroy
(197.33 pts)
T10
(40)
T6
(90)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP 3
(30)
DNP DNP
Branden Grace
(193.33 pts)
T26
(24)
DNP Win
(132)
T20
(30)
T34
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(187.17 pts)
T10
(40)
T11
(58.5)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(22)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Jon Rahm
(176.67 pts)
DNP T32
(27)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
Will Zalatoris
(175.67 pts)
T10
(40)
T22
(42)
DNP T15
(35)
T55
(0)
T17
(22)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Scottie Scheffler
(174 pts)
DNP 5
(105)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
Tyrrell Hatton
(173.67 pts)
T21
(29)
T22
(42)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP
Jason Kokrak
(160.5 pts)
T8
(50)
T9
(67.5)
DNP T32
(18)
DNP DNP T41
(6)
T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
T35
(5)
Billy Horschel
(160.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T2
(150)
DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
T24
(8.67)
Patrick Reed
(151.83 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T9
(67.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T66
(0)
Win
(88)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
Dustin Johnson
(151 pts)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(13)
Lanto Griffin
(143.67 pts)
T21
(29)
T22
(42)
DNP T26
(24)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T41
(3)
T13
(12.33)
Kevin Na
(141.5 pts)
T43
(7)
T11
(58.5)
DNP T38
(12)
DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP Win
(44)
T38
(4)
Patrick Cantlay
(140.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(35)
T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
Cameron Smith
(140.5 pts)
DNP T11
(58.5)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T62
(0)
T24
(8.67)
Daniel Berger
(135.5 pts)
DNP T35
(22.5)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
10
(13.33)
Webb Simpson
(133 pts)
DNP T6
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
T17
(11)
Sungjae Im
(132 pts)
T21
(29)
T28
(33)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(22)
DNP T32
(12)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP T56
(0)
T5
(23.33)
Louis Oosthuizen
(130 pts)
DNP T6
(90)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Carlos Ortiz
(126.17 pts)
DNP T15
(52.5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T29
(14)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
37
(4.33)
Sam Burns
(124 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 3
(90)
T39
(7.33)
T22
(18.67)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Cameron Tringale
(123 pts)
T31
(19)
DNP DNP T26
(24)
T7
(36.67)
T17
(22)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Lee Westwood
(122.67 pts)
2
(100)
T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP DNP
Richy Werenski
(113.67 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T24
(8.67)
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
(113.33 pts)
7
(55)
T32
(27)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP
Corey Conners
(110.67 pts)
3
(90)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Chris Kirk
(110.67 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP
Joaquin Niemann
(106.67 pts)
DNP T28
(33)
DNP T43
(7)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
2
(33.33)
Tommy Fleetwood
(105.33 pts)
T10
(40)
T44
(9)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T26
(16)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP
Ryan Palmer
(101.67 pts)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP T41
(3)
4
(26.67)
Henrik Norlander
(100.67 pts)
71
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T26
(16)
T22
(18.67)
DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Jhonattan Vegas
(100 pts)
DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP T41
(6)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brendan Steele
(99.33 pts)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP T43
(7)
T34
(10.67)
T30
(13.33)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Robert MacIntyre
(99.33 pts)
T36
(14)
T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(14)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(96.33 pts)
DNP T32
(27)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP T47
(1)
T11
(13)
Justin Thomas
(93.83 pts)
DNP T15
(52.5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP 3
(30)
Hideki Matsuyama
(93.17 pts)
T18
(32)
T15
(52.5)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
T41
(3)
Jason Day
(90.33 pts)
T31
(19)
T18
(48)
DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matt Jones
(88 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T8
(50)
T34
(10.67)
T30
(13.33)
DNP T48
(1.33)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP
Francesco Molinari
(83.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T8
(50)
59
(0)
DNP DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Marc Leishman
(81.17 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T39
(16.5)
DNP T32
(18)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
T24
(8.67)
Charley Hoffman
(77 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP T52
(0)
T7
(36.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP T14
(12)
DNP
Emiliano Grillo
(75.33 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP T11
(39)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP T47
(1)
DNP
Matthew NeSmith
(74 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T20
(30)
T16
(22.67)
T7
(36.67)
DNP T48
(1.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Bo Hoag
(74 pts)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP T32
(18)
CUT
(-6.67)
T36
(9.33)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Brendon Todd
(72 pts)
T57
(0)
T18
(48)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(3)
T13
(12.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Arnold Palmer WGC-Workday Concession Puerto Rico Genesis Invitational Pebble Beach Phoenix Open Saudi Inter. Farmers Insurance Dubai Desert Classic American Express Abu Dhabi Sony Open Sentry T of C.
Joel Dahmen
(-36.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T60
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Adam Long
(-33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP 69
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Jimmy Walker
(-33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Robert Streb
(-29.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T67
(0)
T38
(4)
Dylan Frittelli
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Austin Cook
(-26.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(6)
DNP T47
(1)
DNP
Beau Hossler
(-24.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T47
(2)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Jim Herman
(-24 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T32
(6)
DNP
Doc Redman
(-23.33 pts)
T66
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 70
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Sung Kang
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 67
(0)
T63
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

How time flies fast.  Hard to believe this is the one-year anniversary on which the coronavirus started playing havoc on golf.  The LPGA and European Tours had events canceled, but the first canceled event was the Players for the PGA Tour.  It was very unusual what happened, it looked like the Players would sneak through.  But as the first round was being played, PGA Tour officials were already canceling spectators for the final three rounds.  But when play ended, everyone thought that they would be back the next day.  Hideki Matsuyama led after a first-round 63, two ahead of Harris English, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, and Si Woo Kim.  Shooting 67 and four back was Patrick Cantlay and Marc Leishman.

What was strange was that across American, everything was starting to close.  MLB baseball announced that Spring Training would stop, and the NBL postponed games for the night and upcoming weeks.  At about 11 pm, the PGA Tour came out with the announcement that not only was the Players Championship canceled, but the Valspar Championship, WGC-Dell Match Play, and Valero Texas Open would also be canceled.  So the next morning, players came in, cleaned out their lockers, and the PGA Tour went dark for three months.  They returned on June 11th with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.

Since then, golf has gone on with no problems.  Three of the four majors were rescheduled and played, and other than the Canadian Open getting canceled for 2021, there have been no problems.

So what about Bryson DeChambeau back in the winners’ circle?

Have to say that DeChambeau is the biggest thing in golf.  He is a lot like John Day was 30 years ago, but a lot smarter.  DeChambeau is like a mad scientist working all the time on his game and trying to figure out every possible angle that would give him an edge.  He hits the ball as far as any other player on tour, and when he finds a course like Bay Hill, he can attack the course and find an advantage on the field.  A perfect example was how DeChambeau played the par 5, six-hole over the weekend.  The hole is 565 yards, but that’s because it’s shaped around a lake.  From the tee, players can see the green, which is 375 yards away but full carry-over water.  What DeChambeau did was scoop out the possibilities of possibly driving the green, and when the wind conditions helped over the weekend, he took a significant bite off the dogleg, leaving himself just 50 yards to the green.  This brought a lot of excitement for those watching in person and on TV.  But the thing that awes us about his power, he can also hit great iron shots and putt well, in combination he was able to win the Palmer.

We all know how great DeChambeau is, but we also see that he just won’t win if his game isn’t perfect.  On paper, it sounds good to be able to hit it 350 yards, and if it’s in the rough, no problem, there are probably only 100 yards left.  Things worked great at Bay Hill for DeChambeau, but it will be interesting to see if he can do the same thing at TPC Sawgrass.  I don’t think that is possible; there is way too much trouble to get into between the 12 holes in which water comes into play, the bunkering, and the fact that if you hit it too far offline, you can find yourself in swampland.  I feel that DeChambeau will see these problems, and it’s going to be a bit before he figures out the best way of playing at TPC Sawgrass.

We are talking about a person going from hot to ice cold.

Going into Arnold Palmer, the hottest player in golf was Viktor Hovland.  After winning in December at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, he finished T-31st at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and then went crazy.  At the Farmers, he shot 70-65-73-71 to finish T-2nd, five shots back of winner Patrick Reed.  The next week he flew around the world to play in the Saudi International and, thanks to four rounds in the 60s, finished T-6th four shots back of winner Dustin Johnson.  After taking a week off, he shot rounds of 71-69-70-67 at Riviera to finish T-5th at the Genesis Invitational.  The next week at the WGC-Workday at Concession, he was runner-up to Collin Morikawa.  The following week at the Palmer, he started with rounds of 69-68 and was T-3rd going into the weekend.  But on Saturday, he hit a wall, making six bogeys and a double to shot 77, and the next day had three double bogeys in a round of 78 to finish T-49th.  It was a big crash, nothing that was explained but going on further, you have to wonder if things could be amused and his excellent play could be finished for a bit.  Last year, Hovland shot a first-round 68, so he knows how to play well at TPC Sawgrass, but you just have to think that maybe Hovland needs a rest to recharge the batteries.

Could Collin Morikawa be the guy this week?

Absolutely, his game was great two weeks ago at the Concession but what impresses me the most is how he is putting.  That used to be the weak link in his game, and he has figured out a way to be better.  Maybe it’s the new saw-grip that he picked up from Mark O’Meara. Maybe in talking with Paul Azinger on chipping, he got more tips.  But at 24, he is still eager to learn and pick up more tips, which will make him a better player.  I realize that Morikawa is playing the Players for the first time, and rookies don’t do well, but he shot an opening-round 68 last year, I think his first day pairings with Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau will help him, and I can see him contending this week.

What about World # 1 Dustin Johnson?

When Dustin Johnson tees off at The Players Championship, he will be looking to remove a dubious stain on his career.  In tournaments Johnson plays regularly in, the Players is the only event he has never finished in the top-four.  Hard to believe, but his 2019 finish of T-5th, his best finish was T-12th in 2017.  Johnson has really struggled in this event, and maybe we can see that he has figured it out but have to keep in the back of our minds that Johnson is coming off a poor finish at Concession, Johnson isn’t a great player in Florida, so maybe this isn’t his type of course.  One other thing that Johnson has to think about, and that is there have only been two number one players in the world that have won the Players, in 2001 with Tiger Woods and 1994 with Greg Norman.

Rory is still struggling.

Rory McIlroy has been the defending champion for the Players Championship the last two years.  Will he be able to break his year-end slump this week? Hard to believe the last time he won on American soil was at the Players two years ago.  Rory won the 2019 Canadian Open, but that was played on Canadian soil. Yes, Rory also won the 2020 WGC-HSBC Champions, but that was played in China.  So you can see it’s been a while between victories in America.

The season is almost half over. Well really half way over 

It may be early March, but we are playing the 23rd of 50 events on tour for the year.  So it’s hard to believe that the golf year is just about halfway over.  Over the course of the next 24 weeks, along with this week’s Players, we have four majors to play, along with two more WGC events, three FedEx Cup playoffs, and the Olympics, so I guess it’s easy to say this is the start of the massive 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 47th 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 of 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 trouble 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 the weather will be picture perfect all for days.

Many may feel that it takes a lot of experience to win the Players. Since the event moved to the Stadium course, 17 different players in their 20s have won, including defending champion Rory McIlory, 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, Kim in 2017 and Rory in 2019.  I also bring up guys like Craig Perks, Fred Funk, Henrik Stenson, and Tim Clark, who have also won so that anything can happen this week.

But the most critical aspect of playing at TPC Sawgrass is the fact that the course doesn’t favor any one player.  It’s hard to find anyone that can say they are a horse for TPC Sawgrass.  In the 38 times that the Players have been played, only four have won it twice, Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Hal Sutton, Steve Elkington, and Tiger Woods.  Of all the tournaments played for more than 20 years on the PGA Tour, The Players Championship is the only non-fall, full-field event in which the defending champion hasn’t won.  In looking at the Players Championship field, it’s hard to pinpoint a horse for this course.  Defending champion Rory McIlroy did win in 2019, but the year before, he missed the cut, and in ten starts, his 2019 win is his only top-seven finish.  Look at world number one, Dustin Johnson. He has played in eleven Players Championships and only has three top-25 finishes and one in the top-ten, last-year T-5th finish.  #2 ranked Jon Rahm had never finished higher than his T-12th finish in 2019.  #3 Justin Thomas was T-3rd in 2016 but struggled in his other starts.  Last week’s winner Bryson DeChambeau has played twice at TPC Sawgrass and finished T-20th and T-37th.  #8 golfer Patrick Reed has not finished inside the top-20 in any of his six starts.  Even Jordan Spieth, who has won three major championships in his five starts after finishing T-4th in 2014, has missed four of his five cuts.  Looking at the world’s best players, Jack Nicklaus played at TPC Sawgrass ten times and never finished higher than T-17th.  Tiger Woods did win twice and was runner-up in 2000.  But in his other 16 starts, he only had two top-ten and just six top-20 finishes, which showed that Tiger might have won twice but had a lot of tough times at Sawgrass. The point to all of this is to show that The Players Championship is the hardest of all events to pick a winner.  There is no Horse for this course, and even though some of the top names in golf like Tiger, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Nick Price, Davis Love III, and Fred Couples have won, we have also seen players like Craig Perks, Wi Woo Kim, Tim Clark, Fred Funk, and Stephen Ames win in the last 15 years.

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 TifEagle Bermuda with some poa in it which has become very popular in the Southeast. The course played to a 71.53 average in 2019 and was 23rd toughest course on tour.

Here is a look at how hard TPC Sawgrass has played over the years.

Year  Scoring avg    other courses

  • 2019       71.513      23rd
  • 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
  • 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 was 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, in 2018 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:

33 have won the 38 Players Championship since the event moved to its permanent home of TPC Sawgrass.  Of those 33 champions they have….

*Played in 14,089 PGA Tour events in their careers

*Won a total of $939,288,166 million

*With a total of $65.2 million being won at the Players

*The 33 have won a total of 437 times on the PGA Tour

*While 19 of the 33 won a total of 49 major championships

*Seven of the 33 are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame

*eight of the 33 winners spent a total of 1,239 weeks as world number one.

(Woods 683, Norman 311, McIlory 100, 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 33 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 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 #1 Rory McIlory, #7 Webb Simpson and #9 Adam Scott have won at TPC Sawgrass.  Here is what has happened to all ten:

Player                       Player starts    Top-ten    Cuts Made    Best finish

#1 Dustin Johnson           11                   1                 10             T-5, 2019

#2 Jon Rahm                      3                  0                   3            T-12, 2019

#3 Justin Thomas              5                  1                    5            T-3, 2016

#4 Collin Morikawa           0                 0                   0               Rookie

#5 Xander Schauffele         1                 1                    1             T-2, 2018

#6 Bryson DeChambeau   2                 0                   2           T-20, 2019

#7 Tyrrell Hatton                3                0                    1           T-41, 2017

#8 Patrick Reed                  6                 0                   4           T-22, 2017

#9 Patrick Cantlay             3                  0                   2           T-22, 2017

#10 Webb Simpson          10                  1                   6            Win, 2018

#11 Rory McIlroy              10                  4                  6            Won, 2019

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

Remember, the 2020 Players was canceled after the first round was played. This is based on the most important stats for TPC Sawgrass, based on data from the 2019 Players Championship, and using data from all the field players with stats from 2021. What we do is take their rank for each stat and then add up the four categories.
In 2019 the Players Championship returned to its March date, thinking that the course would have more bite to it with March winds. When it was played in May, the course played differently due to the heat but mostly the lack of winds. Between 2013 and 2018, the course only played tough once, in 2017 when all four days saw the wind blowing 20 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph over the weekend. The course played to a 73.29 average, and it was the 5th hardest course on the PGA Tour. The next year in 2018, a combination of low winds, lots of thunderstorms, and rain help make the course play to a 71.41 scoring average, the lowest the course has ever played in its history. So it was essential to change dates, and even though they did change dates in 2019 and each day saw winds in the 8 to 20 mph area, scoring was still low, with the average being 71.51, which ranked T-23rd.
Still, the weather is 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 40 years of his life that 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 challenging, 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 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, the good news for the players is that conditions will be benign and perfect for them, with temperatures in the mid-70s and winds around 10 to 12 mph each day.  So with conditions like this, look for scores below like the previous two years.

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 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. In 2018 Webb Simpson was T-5th, but most of the time in the May dates, it wasn’t that important.
In looking at our four categories, we have seen Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green as very important. It was 3rd in 2019 and T-15th on tour in 2018, and T-11th in 2017. But in 2016, it was T-2nd, so we pick that as the key stat. In looking at our past winners, in 2019, Rory McIlroy led the stat, while in 2018, Webb Simpson was 16th. But in 2017, Si Woo Kim was 2nd in his 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 six of the last seven winners other than Simpson finished no higher than 5th.

The next important stat is Proximity to hole. In 2019 it ranked 6th on tour, with McIlroy ranking 11th, the previous year, the course 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 crucial to hit greens and get it close, we feel this stat’s importance.

Our third important stat is scrambling since it’s vital to hit greens, and hard to do this. You have to be able to get it up and down on the greens you miss. In 2019 the course was 8th hardest while McIlroy was T-40th. In 2018 it 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. It seems hard to believe since the course is so hard, but in 2019 1,704 birdies were made on the course as only eight other courses saw more birdies made. I was surprised to see that Rory made 21 birdies, and it was T-5th (Brandt Snedeker and Abraham Ancer led with 23). In 2018 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 essential. 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 out. Our fourth important stat is birdie average, which is the average birdies made for each round. In looking at the last seven winners, Rory McIlroy ranked T-5th, 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 is that the course will play differently with the change of dates and the grass, which will be overseeded with Rye, creating different challenges.

*Strokes Gained tee-to-green: The course was the 3rd hardest on tour, so 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 24th, but in proximity to hole, which tells how close players get to the hole, Sawgrass ranked T-6th as the players averaged hitting it 38 feet, 11 inches away from the hole.

*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 is made per each round. Last year 1,704 birdies were made making it a 3.90 average per player.

Here are the 151 of 154 players from this year’s field with stats from 2021:

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

To link to stats of all 151 players

DraftKings tips

Of the 154 in the field, 121 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 50 under in 38 rounds playing 10 years
  • Matt Kuchar is 44 under in 37 rounds playing 10 years
  • Sergio Garcia is 40 under in 40 rounds playing 10 years
  • Rory McIlroy is 39 under in 30 rounds playing 9 years
  • Jason Day is 38 under in 30 rounds playing 9 years
  • Francesco Molinari is 29 under in 28 rounds playing 9 years
  • Hideki Matsuyama is 28 under in 22 rounds playing 6 years
  • Zach Johnson is 27 under in 37 rounds playing 10 years
  • Dustin Johnson is 25 under in 33 rounds playing 9 years
  • Justin Rose is 25 under in 34 rounds playing 10 years
  • Justin Thomas is 24 under in 19 rounds playing 5 years
  • Rory Sabbatini is 24 under in 30 rounds playing 8 years
  • Kevin Na is 22 under in 25 rounds playing 8 years
  • Tommy Fleetwood is 22 under in 12 rounds playing 3 years
  • Webb Simpson is 22 under in 30 rounds playing 9 years
  • Ian Poulter is 19 under in 36 rounds playing 10 years
  • Si Woo Kim is 19 under in 16 rounds playing 4 years
  • Billy Horschel is 18 under in 24 rounds playing 7 years
  • Henrik Stenson is 18 under in 32 rounds playing 10 years
  • Jimmy Walker is 18 under in 34 rounds playing 10 years
  • Bryson DeChambeau is 16 under in 8 rounds playing 2 years
  • Byeong Hun An is 16 under in 10 rounds playing 3 years
  • Emiliano Grillo is 15 under in 14 rounds playing 4 years
  • Chris Kirk is 14 under in 31 rounds playing 9 years
  • Lee Westwood is 14 under in 22 rounds playing 6 years
  • Xander Schauffele is 14 under in 6 rounds playing 2 years
  • Jhonattan Vegas is 13 under in 24 rounds playing 7 years
  • Russell Knox is 13 under in 20 rounds playing 6 years
  • Ryan Moore is 13 under in 34 rounds playing 10 years
  • Alex Noren is 12 under in 10 rounds playing 3 years
  • Richy Werenski is 12 under in 8 rounds playing 2 years
  • Abraham Ancer is 11 under in 4 rounds playing 1 years
  • Joel Dahmen is 11 under in 4 rounds playing 1 years
  • Kevin Kisner is 10 under in 16 rounds playing 5 years
  • Martin Laird is 10 under in 26 rounds playing 9 years
  • Jordan Spieth is 9 under in 16 rounds playing 6 years
  • Keegan Bradley is 9 under in 30 rounds playing 9 years
  • Rickie Fowler is 9 under in 29 rounds playing 10 years
*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)
  • Bryson DeChambeau is 16 under, playing 2 years (-8.00)
  • Tommy Fleetwood is 22 under, playing 3 years (-7.33)
  • Xander Schauffele is 14 under, playing 2 years (-7.00)
  • Richy Werenski is 12 under, playing 2 years (-6.00)
  • Byeong Hun An is 16 under, playing 3 years (-5.33)
  • Adam Scott is 50 under, playing 10 years (-5.00)
  • Justin Thomas is 24 under, playing 5 years (-4.80)
  • Si Woo Kim is 19 under, playing 4 years (-4.75)
  • Hideki Matsuyama is 28 under, playing 6 years (-4.67)
  • Matt Kuchar is 44 under, playing 10 years (-4.40)
  • Rory McIlroy is 39 under, playing 9 years (-4.33)
  • Jason Day is 38 under, playing 9 years (-4.22)
  • Sergio Garcia is 40 under, playing 10 years (-4.00)
  • Alex Noren is 12 under, playing 3 years (-4.00)
  • Emiliano Grillo is 15 under, playing 4 years (-3.75)
  • Francesco Molinari is 29 under, playing 9 years (-3.22)
  • Rory Sabbatini is 24 under, playing 8 years (-3.00)
  • Dustin Johnson is 25 under, playing 9 years (-2.78)
  • Kevin Na is 22 under, playing 8 years (-2.75)
  • Zach Johnson is 27 under, playing 10 years (-2.70)
  • Jon Rahm is 8 under, playing 3 years (-2.67)
  • Billy Horschel is 18 under, playing 7 years (-2.57)
  • Justin Rose is 25 under, playing 10 years (-2.50)
  • Beau Hossler is 5 under, playing 2 years (-2.50)
  • Mackenzie Hughes is 5 under, playing 2 years (-2.50)
  • Tom Hoge is 5 under, playing 2 years (-2.50)
  • Webb Simpson is 22 under, playing 9 years (-2.44)
  • Lee Westwood is 14 under, playing 6 years (-2.33)
  • Patrick Cantlay is 7 under, playing 3 years (-2.33)

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 – $11,200
  • Jon Rahm – $10,900
  • Rory McIlroy – $10,600
  • Xander Schauffele – $10,300
  • Justin Thomas – $9,900
  • Bryce DeChambeau – $9,700
  • Webb Simpson – $9,500
  • Collin Morikawa – $9,400
  • Viktor Havland – $9,300
  • Patrick Cantlay – $9,200
  • Tony Finau – $9,100
  • Patrick Reed – $9,000

Remember what I told you before, there are really no favorites at the Players and this is a tournament that is hard to gauge since there are no “horses for courses.”  So the strategy should be to go low and not get got with a bunch of high-paying players.  So I am saying no to Dustin Johnson at $11,200 just because his record isn’t great at TPC Sawgrass.  Am saying no to Jon Rahm at $10,900 because I don’t think he can give me a top-ten finish this week.  I am saying no to Rory McIlroy at $10,600 just because he has that one bad round per event which will prevent him from getting into the top-ten.  By first yes pick is for Xander Schauffele at $10,300, even though he missed the cut in 2019 he was T-2nd the previous year when gives me confidence he can do it again.  As for Justin Thomas at $9,900 he has had some good starts at The Players, most notably in 2016 when he finished T-3rd. But I still think he is getting out of his funk for all of his problems and I feel he will play well, but not enough to get into the top-ten.  Look for him to start getting better possibly at Honda and the Match Play.  Bryce DeChambeau at $9,700 will be very easy to take, but I think Bryce will have a tougher time this week than last.  Way too many places for Bryce’s long drives to get into trouble. Now I give Webb Simpson at $9,500 a big yes, has played well with a win and he played good at Concession.  The same with Collin Morikawa at $9,400, he is my favorite this week, and think he will continue his winning ways.  Viktor Hovland at $9,300 is a big no, just worried over his 77-78 in the final rounds at Bay Hill.  Think the good times are over for a bit.  I am also very guarded over Patrick Cantlay at $9,200, think he is good enough to master TPC Sawgrass, just don’t think it’s this week.  I like Tony Finau at $9,100, think he is due for a win very soon and it seems each week Finau gives himself a great chance at it.  As for Patrick Reed at $9,000 he has never played well at The Players and I can’t see him starting this week.

Here is our new feature in which we help you decide which guys make the cut the most in a tournament.  The importance of picking six players that play 72 holes is vital in playing well in Draftkings, and this list will help.  It’s a look going back to the 2010 Players Championship on who has made the most cuts.  Of course, those who make a lot of cuts and are priced low are very helpful.  To get on this list, you have to make at least four Players starts:

  • Sergio Garcia made 10 cuts in 10 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,500.
  • Branden Grace made 6 cuts in 6 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,000.
  • Justin Thomas made 5 cuts in 5 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 9,900.
  • Si Woo Kim made 4 cuts in 4 starts for a 100.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,200.
  • Adam Scott made 9 cuts in 10 starts for a 90.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,100.
  • Matt Kuchar made 9 cuts in 10 starts for a 90.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,200.
  • Zach Johnson made 9 cuts in 10 starts for a 90.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,800.
  • Dustin Johnson made 8 cuts in 9 starts for a 88.9%.  His DraftKings cost is 11,200.
  • Rory Sabbatini made 7 cuts in 8 starts for a 87.5%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,400.
  • Hideki Matsuyama made 5 cuts in 6 starts for a 83.3%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,700.
  • Lee Westwood made 5 cuts in 6 starts for a 83.3%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,200.
  • Ian Poulter made 8 cuts in 10 starts for a 80.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,100.
  • Jason Dufner made 8 cuts in 10 starts for a 80.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,100.
  • Daniel Berger made 4 cuts in 5 starts for a 80.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 8,800.
  • Bubba Watson made 7 cuts in 9 starts for a 77.8%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,300.
  • Chris Kirk made 7 cuts in 9 starts for a 77.8%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,000.
  • Graeme McDowell made 6 cuts in 8 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,300.
  • Emiliano Grillo made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,700.
  • Nick Taylor made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,400.
  • Sung Kang made 3 cuts in 4 starts for a 75.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,000.
  • Billy Horschel made 5 cuts in 7 starts for a 71.4%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,700.
  • Jhonattan Vegas made 5 cuts in 7 starts for a 71.4%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,300.
  • Jimmy Walker made 7 cuts in 10 starts for a 70.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,100.
  • Justin Rose made 7 cuts in 10 starts for a 70.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 7,800.
  • Ryan Moore made 7 cuts in 10 starts for a 70.0%.  His DraftKings cost is 6,800.

(Those that I like are in bold)

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

Daniel Berger at $8,800 is a bit high, but this is his type of course and I feel he will play well.  As much as I like Hideki Matsuyama, his price is high at $8,700 for a guy that is putting badly.  Yes, he shot 63 to lead after the first round last year, but last year Matsuyama’s game was in better shape so he is a no for me.  Jordan Spieth at $8,600 is a bargain.  Think that he is getting better each week and you can see his confidence is sky-high, could be your winner this week.  Like Tyrell Hatton at $8,500 even though he has missed the cut in his last two Players’ starts.  Many will like Paul Casey at $8,400 and all I can say is that he isn’t right for this course and there is no way he finishes better than 25th.  Sungjae Im at $8,300 is another guy that I would consider but he just isn’t playing well right now.  I was very disappointed that Matthew Fitzpatrick, who is $8,200 shot 74 in the final round at the Palmer and 72 in the final round at WGC-Workday.  It’s probably best to stay off of him this week, course doesn’t seem to suit his game.  But I can say now, look for him to play well at the Honda.  Adam Scott at $8,100 is a good choice, always plays well at Sawgrass and has made a ton of birdies.  Yes, it was disappointing what he shot at the Genesis and Concession, but think he will play better.  Tommy Fleetwood at $7,900 is a good choice, saw his game improve at the Palmer and think he will be ready to go this week.  Joaquin Niemann is $7,700 and is playing well.  Just don’t think he is playing well enough to contend, but he does make a lot of cuts, is cheap, and could be a good horse at this price.  Each week I see Will Zalatoris playing well, he is $7,600 and well worth the price even without ever playing in this course before.  Abraham Ancer is also a good choice at $7,500 and should be considered.  Normally I don’t take Sergio Garcia, but at $7,500 and on this course which he has made ten of ten cuts in the last decade, say he is worth the money.

Are there any “Bargains” at the Players Championship?

Yes, there are and the biggest right off the bat am very shocked to see last week’s third-place finisher Corey Conners at $7,400.  Will he continue to play well, was T-41st in 2019.  Kevin Na at $7,300 is a great bargain, he has three top-ten finishes at Sawgrass plus he has made 10 of 12 cuts in 2021.  Am also very shocked to see that you can get Kevin Kisner for only $7,200, he was runner-up at the Players in 2015 and has played ok this year.  He is moving to the time of year he plays the best in, so take him.  Cameron Tringale at $7,200 is another winner, he played well in 2021 and had mixed results at The Players.  Also, think you can do well with Lee Westwood at $7,200 after finishing runner-up last week and he has played well in the Players with five top-tens in 14 starts.  Another great pick is Christiaan Bezuidenhout at $7,100, yes he is a Players rookie but played well at Bay Hill and was ok at Concession.  Just look at his record going back to the restart of the season in June and he has a great record.  Ian Poulter at $7,100 is another bargain, has made 13 of 16 Players cuts and was 2nd in 2009.  The list continues, Alex Noren is $7,000 and was 10th in 2017 and T-17th in 2018, he was T-12th at the Genesis three weeks ago.  Look at these players in this category and they are all great and most of them will make the cut.  If that isn’t enough how about Zach Johnson at $6,800.  No, he isn’t going to give you a win but he has made 13 of 15 Players cut and has made eight of eight cuts in 2021.  Also, watch Emiliano Grillo at $6,700, he has been great in 2021, was T-11th at Puerto Rico and T-21st at Bay Hill.  He also finished 11th at The Players in 2017 and last year was T-26th.  Lastly, Richy Werenski is only $6,400 and for that, he was T-4th last week at Bay Hill and has made two of two cuts at The Players including a T-23rd in 2018.  So this could be the best list of bargains we have seen in a long time.

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

The 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, McIlroy 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 (including all years), 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).  There have only been four multiple winners since it moved to TPC Sawgrass.
  • 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 seven 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.  In 2018 Webb Simpson hit 55 of 72 greens and was T-5th while in 2019 Rory McIlory hit 58 of 72 greens and was T-3rd.
  • 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 T-23rd hardest course in making putts inside ten feet with an average of 86.75%.  In 2018 it was ranked T-14th hardest course 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 in 2018 Webb Simpson also had 108 putts which ranked T-4th.  In 2019 Rory McIlroy had 116 putts which ranked T-43rd.
  • 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 8th hardest course to get it up and down as the field average 55.08 in getting it up and down.  McIlory finished T-40th in scrambling.  In 2018 it 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 2019, 2,127 balls have gotten wet on the three holes, compare this to holes 1 thru 15 that have had a total of 1,911 balls in the water.  The 17th has the most with 802; the 18th has seen 775 go in the water while the 16th has seen 550 balls in the water.  So in doing the math, these three holes have been played 7,427 times with 2,127 in the water for a 28.6% average.  So the chances of getting your ball wet on those holes on any given round is a shade under 3 in 10.  In 2019, 45 balls went into the water on the 17th hole.

Who to watch for at the The Players Championship

Best Bets:

Webb Simpson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T16 Win T16 T66 CUT T15 CUT T69 CUT CUT

Lot’s of experience at The Players including his win in 2018. Was T-6th at Concession and T-4th at Sony Open in Hawaii, courses that have a lot of traits needed to play well at TPC Sawgrass.

Collin Morikawa

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Yes he is a Players rookie, but last year shot a first day 68 before the event was canceled. Like the fact that he has improved his putting with the “Saw-Grip” and is showing good results, he will contend this week.

Jordan Spieth

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T41 CUT CUT CUT T4

Guy is on a high, his confidence gets better with each great event he has. Don’t fear that he has missed the cut in four of six starts, was T-4th in 2014 Players which shows he can play well at Sawgrass

Best of the rest:

Xander Schauffele

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT T2

Has played great in his last four starts, unfortunately, stubbled in the final round in three of the four, was 3rd in his last start at Genesis. Showed in 2018 that he could play well in Florida, was T-2nd at the Players.

Tony Finau

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T22 T57 CUT CUT

Was 14th at Concession, runner-up at Genesis, Saudi and Farmers. In his last seven starts is a remarkable 88 under as in those 28 rounds only shot over par twice. Only a matter of time before he wins.

Tommy Fleetwood

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T5 T7 T41

Game showed signs of coming out of his thaw until he shot 77 in the final round of Arnold Palmer to finish T-10th. Can play well in Florida.

Adam Scott

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T12 T11 T6 T12 T38 T38 T19 T15 CUT T26 CUT

Has been in the top-12 in each of his last four starts won in 2004. Has made a check in all six 2021 starts, best finish T-10th at Farmers.

Kevin Na

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
78 T46 WD CUT T6 T38 T7 CUT CUT T3

Like that he was T-3rd at the Players in 2009, T-7th in 2012 and T-6th in 2015. Those memories could help him find a path to good play this week. Won at Sony and has had good rounds since, was T-11th at Concession and T-43rd at Bay Hill.

Have to be very careful with these stars who could be duds this week:

Dustin Johnson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T5 T17 T12 T28 T69 T59 WD T57 T34 T79

Hard to believe he only has one top-ten at The Players in 11 starts, T-5th in 2019. Struggled to a T-54th at Concession, won Saudi Invitational, and was T-8th at Genesis.

Rory McIlroy

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
Win CUT T35 T12 T8 T6 T8 CUT CUT CUT

Defending champion has four top-ten finishes in ten starts. His biggest problem is having that one bad round per start, last week it was closing round 76 at Bay Hill to finish T-10th.

Bryson DeChambeau

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T20 T37

A great win for him at Bay Hill, but TPC Sawgrass is different than Bay Hill and DeChambeau will have a different experience at Sawgrass. Worried that there are too many places for him to get into trouble, was T-20th in 2019 and T-37th in 2018. We are noticing that he is a hit and miss, depending on what course he plays. Bay Hill was a definite hit for him.

Jon Rahm

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T12 T63 T72

Tend to worry if he can play well in Florida, was T-12th at The Players in 2019. Has had good finishes of late, was T-5th at Genesis, T-7th at Farmers and Kapalua, just wonder if he can play well in Florida.

Viktor Hovland

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Was the hottest player on the planet going into the weekend of Bay Hill, shot 77-78 and we have to wonder why things came crashing down on him. Has never played in The Players, before Bay Hill we thought his chances would be good but now have to wonder what is up.

Long shots that could come through:

Will Zalatoris

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

If I was to pick that one long shot guy that can put it together to win it would be Will. Never played before at TPC Sawgrass. Ranked up another top-ten with a T-10th at Bay Hill showing he can play in Florida.

Lee Westwood

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T65 CUT T6 T8 T61 T4

At 47 showed that he could still contend with his runner-up finish at Bay Hill. Has done well in 14 Players starts, was T-5th in 1998, T-6th in 1999, T-4th in 2010, T-8th in 2013 and T-6th in 2014. Hasn’t played much since and the course could be too big for him.

Abraham Ancer

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T12

Was T-12th last year, has been steady in 2021.

Comments

  1. Alan McLean says

    Any credence in home town players? Know Furyk has played well in the past and uses this as a home course. Other players off the top of my head- Russel Knox and Cam Smith? How do you rate them for this week?

  2. Jim Furyk did finish 2nd in 2019 but isn’t even playing this week. Russell Knox and Cam Smith have never played well, hell the hometown of all is Vijay Singh and he contented a few years but never won. This is the one tournament that nobody has an advantage period. It’s hard to find a person with more than 4 top-tens in the event, playing this year there are only two Sergio who has played 20 Players and had six top-tens, and Lee Westwood, who has played in 14 Players and had five top-tens. So the point it, hard to find a player that we can count on to be reliable enough to first make the cut, get into contention and finish someplace in the top-five.

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