The Players Championship: it’s the largest purse on tour, so you know all the big names are here. And I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty exited to watch professionals rinse a few on a 137-yard par 3. I love carnage.
In case you’re wondering what’s happening in the image above, that’s just Bob Tway making a 12 on #17 in 2005. No big deal. Fun fact: when I was much younger, I went trick or treating at Bob Tway’s house. He was dressed up as Jim Carrey in The Mask. It was weird.
The course in question is the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass (lots of good info here: course flyover, yardage book, and scorecard). It’s a 7,275-yard par 72 located in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, and it has played host to this event since 1974. Sawgrass is typically thought of as a “ball striker’s course,” and that reputation has been borne out by recent results.
2015 The Players Championship
1. Rickie Fowler -12 (won in playoff)
T-2. Kevin Kisner -12
T-2. Sergio Garcia -12
T-4. Bill Haas -11
T-4. Ben Martin -11
T-6. Rory Sabbatini -9
T-6. Kevin Na -9
T-8. Jamie Donaldson -8
T-8. Rory McIlroy -8
T-8. Brian Harman -8
T-8. John Senden -8
T-8. Ryo Ishikawa -8
Oh, God… is it a Ben Martin week?
TARGET STATS (courtesy of FantasyGolfMetrics.com)
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
- Strokes Gained: Putting
- Birdie or Better %
- Par 5 Scoring
- Proximity from 150-175 Yards
- Driving Accuracy
PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS! PICKS!
Rory McIlroy $11700
Three straight top-8 finishes at The Players and was on fire last Sunday at Wells Fargo. Just has to avoid the random mini-blowup that’s been troubling him for weeks.
Jordan Spieth $11400
It’s his first tournament since the collapse at The Masters, and that does give me slight pause. But I’m powering through it, and I’m expecting him to bounce back. He tied for 4th here in 2014 but missed the cut last year.
Adam Scott $10000
He’s surely glad to be back in Florida, where he went for back-to-back victories earlier in the year. He won this event way back in 2004, but has only one top-10 since 2006. That said, he’s playing the type of golf that should translate into success this week. He ranks well above average in all key areas except for driving accuracy, but his length should mitigate that deficiency a bit as he’ll frequently be clubbing down off the tee.
Hideki Matsuyama $9700
It’s a “ball striker’s course,” and Hideki might be the ball striker. In two Players starts, he has two top-25 finishes. He squeaked through on the number last week but turned in a solid 69 on Sunday and nearly backdoored a top-10 (finished T-11). Sawgrass has been kind to Sergio Garcia over the years (he’s #1 in terms of DK points against field average over the last 10 years), and I tend to think of Matsuyama as a younger Sergio.
Henrik Stenson $9500
Stenson is a Florida resident (lives two hours away from TPC Sawgrass) and seems to love this course. He has seven top-25 finishes at The Players in the last 10 years, including a 3rd in ’06, a win in ’09, and a 5th in ’13. His putter has been running a little cold of late, but he remains one of the best ball strikers on tour. If you’ve watched even five minutes of PGA Tour coverage this past season, then you already know he loves hitting the 3-wood off the tee (ugh, I just realized we’re going to hear about this all week… again). The course layout really plays into his skill set.
Bubba Watson $9300
Let’s start with this: he hasn’t done much at The Players… ever. As a card-carrying member of #TeamCH, I feel dirty suggesting Bubba this week, but there are two reasons to go here. First, his numbers line up perfectly with FGM’s key stats. Using the past 12 weeks of r-data, Bubba’s profile is second only to Adam Scott’s. I’d like to have seen a little more at Sawgrass from him in the past, but if that were the case, we likely wouldn’t have reason #2 to play Bubba this week… his price. At $9300, he’s roughly $1k cheaper than similar options like Justin Rose or Dustin Johnson. He really slots in nicely at the #2 position (or even #3) in your lineups. I’m willing to take a shot here.
Danny Willett $8900
Like Spieth, this is Willett’s first tournament since The Masters, though it’s a totally different set of circumstances. Willett was recently asked what he’s been doing since his big win, and he responded, “drinking more.” Honestly not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. He’s only played here once (last year), and he missed the cut. But with his recent play, he really has ascended in to that #1b tier, just below Spieth, Day, and Rory. Plus, he played very well on the Florida Swing earlier in the year. In my opinion, he’s just as likely to win this event as Fowler, Garcia, etc., and you’re getting him at a substantial discount.
Jimmy Walker $8000
Both in terms of form and course history, Walker has been really up-and-down. But that’s okay. We’re looking for upside, and he certainly has it. Walker has three top-30s in his last four events (but missed the cut at Valero, an event where he usually plays well). At Sawgrass, he’s 4/6 in cuts made with a 15th in ’13 and a 6th in ’14. Walker is another one of those guys who grades out well in all categories except for accuracy off the tee. I’m hoping he’ll be able to club down and keep it in play. If he can, he should have a good week.
Russell Knox $7600
When I first started my research process, I thought, “this is a great course for Russell Knox.” Solid tee-to-green, passable putter, deadly accurate off the tee and into greens… just a good all-around fit. He has played here twice and turned in strong finishes both times (34th in ’14, 17th in ’15). He’s a nice value at $7600.
J.B. Holmes $7400
From 2007 to 2011, Holmes racked up four top-16s in five years at TPC Sawgrass. More recently, he has two MCs in his last three Players starts. So we’ll say mixed results. I’m just really drawn to his price. He’s too good of a golfer to be down this low; he should be up in that $8k range with Walker, Berger, Hoffman, etc.
Patton Kizzire $7300
He was a “bad fit” last week, yet managed to turn in a solid performance. I’m expecting something similar this week. I’m sure many will point to his inaccuracy off the tee, but that’s just one small aspect of his game. He’s solid tee-to-green and an excellent putter. I’ll say it again, he tends to hang around and keep himself in contention.
Rafa Cabrera Bello $7100
It’s his first Players, but he’s in great form. He’s only finished outside of the top-22 once his his last 10 worldwide starts, and during that stretch he’s posted five top-5s. Granted, we’re only dealing with two weeks worth of U.S. stats, but he ranks near the top of the field in both strokes gained: tee-to-green and putting. Even if you discount those numbers a bit, there’s still plenty of value here at $7100.
Jamie Lovemark $7000
He’s more than a “bomber.” For instance, Lovemark currently ranks #4 on tour in scramble proximity. He’s playing well and is above average in all key areas (you know what’s coming…) except for driving accuracy. Lovemark has the type of upside you’re looking for in GPPs, and if people are thrown off his scent by the lack of accuracy, even better.
Emiliano Grillo $6700
This one is a bit of a dart throw. He’s okay tee-to-green and has excellent accuracy numbers. I like his upside and price.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat $6500
The Barnrat has been rolling the rock extremely well, and that should be fairly useful this week. He’s coming off a 6th place finish at Bay Hill and a 15th at The Masters. If you can compete in those fields, you’re certainly worth a few shots at $6500.
Ben Martin $6300
Ben Martin! Or Ben Martin… It will definitely be one of those two outcomes. He’s accurate off the tee, scores well on par 5s, and is a solid putter. He finished T-4 here last year, and you’ve got the whole “Ben Martin on Pete Dye courses” angle.
Jhonattan Vegas $6300
Much like Lovemark, he’s playing well and more than just a bomber. He’s currently sitting at +0.74 SGT2G and +0.29 SGP. If you can get a +1.0 SG:T golfer at $6300, you take him.
Hudson Swafford $5600
If you’re going to drop below $6k, I’d use Swaffdog. The only thing that really stands out to me in his numbers is he’s excellent from the key yardage of 150-175. However, he’s not really that bad in any target area. He’s a filler pick with a little upside that should help you fit an extra star into your lineup.