Pari offers his preview and cheat sheet for this week’s Players Championship!
Another tough week in Florida in the books as we saw some tough conditions ultimately play a huge role in the outcome of the tournament, pre and post cut.
This week it looks like all the players will have to deal with is the typical Pete Dye design and shouldn’t have much to worry about with the wind (which may be refreshing for them). Sawgrass is notorious for being a less than driver course, where players will be more focused on hitting tee shots to an area so they have an angle in on their approach rather than bombing it and dealing with the lie once they get to their next shot.
The layout of the course is somewhat difficult, the greens have some tricky tendencies to them especially when putting down-grain, so I think it’s a good week to lean on guys who have played here in the past versus hot rookies who are seeing it for the first time in Tour play.
Scrambling is almost non-existent here because if you’re missing greens, you’re probably dropping for your next stroke. Bunker play is somewhat essential as there should be plenty of bunker shots to try to save par. When looking at previous winners, I think we have a mix of good to elite ball strikers who have gotten hot at the right time on the greens. Webb was a combo of both, Si Woo (obviously caught lightning in a bottle the year he won) and Jason Day was pretty much unconscious for a few weeks in Florida.
This tournament will get the best of the best golfers in the world, so don’t put too much stock in missed cuts if you like a specific player because your research is leading you there.
o The Course
· TPC Sawgrass
· Par 72
· 7,1800 yards
· Bermuda greens
o Location: Ponte Vedra, FL
o Corollary Courses: Pete Dye Designs, Bay Hill
o Past Champions:
· 2019: Rory McIlroy -16 over Jim Furyk
· 2018: Webb Simpson -18 over Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, & Jimmy Walker
· 2017: Si Woo Kim -10 over Louis Oosthuizen & Ian Poulter
· 2016: Jason Day -15 over Kevin Chappell
KEY STATS TO TARGET
o Strong Emphasis – SG: Ball Striking, Birdie or Better %, Par 5 Scoring
o Important – SG: Putting, Scrambling, P4 Scoring from 450-500 yards, APP 200+, APP 125-150
THIS WEEK’S SUGGESTIONS FOR THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
COURSE HORSES (All formats – Cash & GPP)
Adam Scott (DK $9,600)
· History: 12th– 11th – 6th – 12th – 38th
· Form: MC – DNP – 26th – Win
· 2020 Stats (16 measured rounds): 132nd – SG: OTT, 23rd – SG: APP, 49th – SG: P, 21st – SG: T2G
· Why I like him: Last week’s missed cut should keep ownership down, even though he wasn’t that good of a fit at Bay Hill. Sure, golf metrics-wise he’s a good fit everywhere, but for whatever reason he just doesn’t seem to play well there ever. I’m chalking it up to the firm & fast greens, personally. This week should be different for Adam as he’s a past champion and someone whose shown consistency in his finishing places over the years.
Rory McIlroy (DK $11,700): Defending champion who missed the cut here the year prior and has a roller coaster of finishes here over the years, Rory’s a no-brainer every week until he’s not so don’t overthink this play at all. He’s the best player in golf right now and we’re getting him $100 cheaper than last week.
Hideki Matsuyama (DK $8,800): Jason Day ranks third but F that guy (not gonna get into it, but if his back truly is messed up, I hope he’s able to take some time away from golf to make sure it heals properly). Back to Matsuyama, 8th – MC – 22nd– 7th his last four years here and playing some of his best/most consistent golf to date. The MC bug can hit anyone here, so I’m not too concerned with where he’ll finish based on how good his ball striking has been this season.
PETE DYE SPECIALISTS (Stats based on last 50 rounds on all Pete Dye courses)
Matt Kuchar (DK $7,800)
· History: 26th– 17th – MC – 3rd
· Form: DNP – DNP – 22nd– 2nd
· 2020 Stats (21 measured rounds): 153rd – SG: OTT, 79th – SG: APP, 16th – SG: P, 97th – SG: T2G
· Why I like him: Kuch ranks 2nd in the field SG: T2G on Pete Dye courses over his last 50 rounds. 5th in ball striking, 59th in putting and 10th in DK Points. He hasn’t teed it up in two weeks, so he must be well rested. Kuchar’s price in major fields is usually the ideal place to play him and it’s usually going to result in high ownership. He’ll be good chalk this week, in my opinion.
Dustin Johnson (DK $10,000): 6thSG: T2G, 2nd in ball striking 20th in putting and 2nd in DK points, DJ’s history here had been really poor outside of last year’s first Top 5. I think people will look at that as an outlier finish and click the names around him instead. My suggestion would be to stick with DJ when everyone else is down on him.
Paul Casey (DK $8,200): 5th SG: T2G, 3rd in ball striking, 52nd in putting and 6th in DK points, Casey’s history includes two (2) WD’s (eeek!) and back-to-back Top 25’s along with three missed cuts. The missed cuts don’t concern me as much as the WDs, but hopefully we’re removed from that after being bitten by JDay last week. His form is solid as he’s made all of his cuts this season and finished 11th in Mexico following a 37th place finish at the Genesis.
Honorable Mentions: Brooks Koepka (DK $10,200), Justin Rose (DK $8,700), Jim Furyk (DK $6,800), Si Woo Kim (DK $6,600)
VALUE PLAYS (All Formats – Cash & GPP)
Byeong Hun An (DK $7,800)
· History: 26th– 30th – DNP – MC
· Form: MC – 4th – 29th – DNP
· 2020 Stats (28 measured rounds): 72nd – SG: OTT, 75th – SG: APP, 193rd – SG: P, 17th – SG: T2G
· Why I like him: We all know about his game. Strong ball striking poor putting, on Pete Dye courses it’s no different. That game has translated to one missed cut over the last three appearances. With conditions being a bit milder this week than the last two, I think we could see a ball striking show from the DFS Twitter dandy this week.
Patrick Reed (DK $8,500): Reed’s priced in a perfect spot for us to jump aboard this week as he’s already a winner in Mexico this year and looks poised to tack on another win before the end of the season. His history here has been worse than his price/odds indicate as he’s missed two cuts in six appearances, finished inside the Top 25 twice and has two finishes outside the Top 30, but I’m leaning more on his form than anything. If he can control his golf ball like he did for most of the WGC Mexico and more importantly putt as well as he did, he should be a good value play this week.
Sergio Garcia (DK $8,000): A great value on the Spaniard this week as we know he’s similar to BHA in his ball striking ability and actually a better putter on Pete Dye creations over the years as he ranks 84thin SG: Putting over his last 50 rounds on Dye courses. He’s a few years removed from a playoff here so he can definitely get to the podium if the putter cooperates.
CORE PLAYS (of those not listed)
Patrick Cantlay (DK $9,800): MC – 23rd – 22nd in his only appearances at TPC Sawgrass on the PGA Tour. His form is solid leading in with a 17th at the WGC Mexico and 11th at Genesis. The California kid has avoided the Florida swing thus far and I’m guessing it has more to do with the conditions or his play historically in this area of the states, but his skillset and metrics line up for success here.
Webb Simpson (DK $9,200): A pair of 16th’s sandwich his win here in 2018 and he’s five weeks removed from his win at the WMPO. Webb’s a sneaky good play this week even at an elevated price tag compared to where he usually would be in this field, but I think that speaks to how good he’s been playing the past 2-3 years.
Billy Horschel (DK $7,500): Florida courses and Billy Horschel. Finished decently in both events on the Florida swing thus far (nothing inside the Top 25, but still not bad). BillyHo has the bermuda putting splits and the state of mind to get around Sawgrass without making huge numbers as he’s been vocal about playing more courses that take driver out of the hands of the big dogs. I like Billy a lot this week.
Thanks for reading and good luck this week from the FGI team!
– Pari, (@hitthehighdraw)