Often referred to as the fifth major, The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass is a signature event of the PGA Tour season. This year’s event has a $15 million purse with $2.7 million going to the winner. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass has held this event every year dating back to 1982.
Some people are saying that this will actually be the easiest course of the Florida swing, which has already featured some really good golf and some final-round drama. Next week’s Valspar Championship at Innisbrook often has a winning score in the single digits. Scoring can be done on the TPC Sawgrass course for this flagship event.
We’ll survey the course, the field, and look for some players to back in this huge event worth 80 Official World Golf Ranking points.
The Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass Stadium Course is a Pete Dye design. This course doesn’t necessarily reward distance. It rewards accuracy. This is a par 72 coming in just under 7,200 yards this time around, but when we think of TPC Sawgrass, we think of the iconic Island Green on 17. We think of narrow landing spots and the importance of strokes gained on approach.
There are a lot of technical elements to the Stadium Course. Approach shots to tucked-away greens and long second shots full of risk and reward. Also, the wind. It is Florida after all, so we know that the wind can kick up in Ponte Vedra Beach.
It is important to understand the course as well as you can so that you can pick the players with the best skill sets.
The Players Championship features 144 players, so this is a bigger field than what we had last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It is still a very strong field based on the criteria. We are missing Tiger Woods again this week with back issues.
Here are the odds from 5Dimes Sportsbook for The 2020 Players Championship as of 10 a.m. on March 10, 2020:
|Byeong Hun An||+7500|
|Erik Van Rooyen||+15000|
|Harold Varner III||+17500|
|Charles Howell III||+20000|
|Si Woo Kim||+30000|
As you can see, Rory is the favorite at about 7/1. Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas are just ahead of Bryson DeChambeau, but Bryson has four top-10 finishes in his last five and he’s going to get one of these tournament titles sometime soon.
We have had a wide variety of players that have won here. Big hitters like Rory, Rickie, and Tiger have won, but so have more technical guys like Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, KJ Choi, Tim Clark, and Si-Woo Kim.
You notice that there are some players that were in the 100 or 125/1 range last week that are pumped up into the 200s like Wyndham Clark, Denny McCarthy, and Carlos Ortiz. Some of that has to do with a stronger field. Some of that has to do with last week’s results. Some of that has to do with what plays well at this course.
A lot of guys really struggled last week with Bay Hill, as the winds were moving and Saturday wound up being extremely tough. Amazingly, this course is a little more forgiving, though we certainly wouldn’t think that with the fanfare of this tournament.
Here are four guys I like this week for a variety of reasons:
Patrick Cantlay (+2500) – We haven’t seen Patrick Cantlay in a little while and he didn’t play well here last year, but he fits the right type of skill set to have success at TPC Sawgrass. Cantlay fell from second to sixth in SG: Approach because he didn’t play last week. Over his 20 rounds, he ranks sixth, but would be higher up if he had played more tournaments. Cantlay is also sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green, due in large part to his approach game. He is tied for second in GIR%. Cantlay had two top-25 finishes before missing the cut last season in this event, but he’s got great stats over his measured rounds and hasn’t been playing week in and week out on tough courses like some of these guys. Presidents Cup players are rattling off wins like crazy. Cantlay doesn’t have one yet.
Gary Woodland (+4000) – It seems like Gary Woodland has found his game again. Woodland did not play last week at the Arnold Palmer, but he was eighth two weeks ago at the Honda Classic and 12th three weeks ago at the WGC-Mexico Championship. Woodland, another Presidents Cup player, won last year’s US Open in emotional fashion, but hasn’t grabbed a title since. So far during the 2019-20 season, Woodland ranks 16th in SG: Approach and 21st in SG: Tee-to-Green. He is sixth in GIR%. Like so many others, the putter has come and gone, but 81st in SG: Putting is respectable enough and the other parts of his game should have him in contention going into Sunday.
Harris English (+13500) – I’ve got two bombs left for you here. How about Harris English at 150/1? English has played a lot of golf this year already and ranks 41st in SG: Approach. He is a solid 18th overall in SG: Tee-to-Green. His claim to fame is hitting GIRs, as he ranks fifth in GIR% with the most rounds of anybody in the top 14. He is also sixth in GIR% from 150-175 yards, which is where he is going to be with some regularity this week. His putting ranks in the top 40 in strokes gained as well. He’s running on a streak of three straight top-20 finishes, but he has missed five straight cuts here. Hopefully his recent form overcomes his course form.
Nick Watney (+25000) – Nick Watney is a long price worthy of some consideration. He’s 250/1 for a reason, but Watney ranks 29th in SG: Approach. His SG: Tee-to-Green profile is poor because he has struggled off of the tee, but he’s been pretty good on his way to the green and around the green as well. Admittedly, Watney has not putted well, but if you can find a top 20 or top 10 prop to pair with this long shot future, Watney is a guy that I do expect to play well this week. He’s 14th in GIR% and 16th in GIR% from 150-175 yards out. He’s played well here in the past and played well two weeks ago at the Honda Classic. As a real long shot, he’s worth a couple of bucks.