First Look, The Players Championship

The tour remains in Florida as we get the strongest field annually for The Players Championship. 144 of the best will tee it up going against the best of their peers. If your a course history truther then you will likely struggle. Due to the depth of the field, and it only gets stronger and stronger, it’s probably the hardest tournament to consistently make the cut at. No surprise with the strong field that pricing is soft. So with that said let’s get to it.

Moving forward my articles will appear late Monday. With that said this will now become more of a first look article on the players that catch my eyes. As the week progresses many things can change as tee times won’t be out along with pairing, player withdrawals and the almighty weather. The latter will probably have a huge affect on player pool as we move through the week. As always pay attention to discord, tiers and cores for updates and changes.

Upper Tier
We all know the results haven’t been good for Jon Rahm based off the salary. Let’s face it, he is a ball striking machine. Rahm at the top or near the top in all ball striking stats for the year. His downfall has been the putter and around the green play. Both will eventually come back, when we don’t know, but if people start jumping off I want some. Rahm isn’t a bad putter in general, just going through difficult times.

A them you will hear is ball striking as this is a second shot course. With that said Collin Morikawa has to be on your list. Morikawa is perhaps the best in the game when  it comes to approach play. His putting has been suspect but in general better than prior years. The price is stiff and people still have issues playing him when at the top with other big names.

Justin Thomas appears primed to win soon. His results this calendar year have been great. Another great ball striker who struggles with the short stick. He is one of the few who consistently plays well on this track. The one piece that is worrisome and it could be myself just wanting to talk myself out of him is defending champs haven’t done well in their defense.

This isn’t a course that has been friendly to Patrick Cantlay which is surprising. Cantlay plays Pete Dye course well in general. His form has been impeccable this year as he has done it all minus a win.

The 9k range isn’t a huge target for me currently but that could change as I like several 8k players. Ownership isn’t a concern for me either as it will be evenly spread. This allows you to play another player or two up top and still easily get over the field on ownership. We can’t play them all but right now Hovland and Scheffler are on the outside looking in. Both played great last week in tough conditions. It’s mentally exhausting to go through what they did and to follow it up will be tough.

8K Range
This range is just as loaded as the top tier! One could also argue that the form for these players is as good if not better than the top tier ranges. Honestly, it might be tougher making decisions on who to play in the 8k range than the upper tiers.

One of the more popular plays in this range should be Daniel Berger and I am fine it’s that. Berger has played well here in the past and some of those appearances came when he wasn’t playing nearly as well as now. Berger plays well in Florida and his game sets up well for the course.

One of the better options within the range who I feel will be overlooked is Louis Oosthuizen. The form is solid but not like it was last year and people just don’t like playing him. Like most his results here have been up and down. If the irons show up, and they have been better the past year and more consistent than prior years, it could be a great week as he putts well, has solid short game and can play in the wind.

We want ball strikers and Joaquin Niemann fits the mold. He played well last year during his debut while his form most recently has been good. Niemann has become a much better putter in general and specifically on bermuda greens. The one concern, the short game is inconsistent.

Shane Lowry will go overlooked, book it. He is surrounded by so many other good players. His iron play has been very good to go along with his form. If he can find a way to make it to the weekend he could become an exceptional play. Lowry plays his best on tough courses in difficult conditions, exactly what the current forecast calls for.

I will pass on Horschel for the very reason I am Hovland and Scheffler. Adam Scott, Brooks Koepka and Sungjae Im are on my radar but currently I prefer the four above.

7k Range
Plenty of options which will keep ownership once again spread out. The form for Tyrell Hatton has been great. He is an under rated ball striker who people are afraid to play due to his temperament. He showed he could handle tough conditions this past weekend. Hatton also showed that even the best players in tough conditions can struggle on Saturday.

Right below is Matthew Fitzpatrick who like Hatton showed the good and bad in tough conditions at Bay Hill. The concern for Fitz is he gets it done with the putter and around the green which is great but the irons can be inconsistent. One could also argue both of these players are underpriced which will take ownership away from a Lowry.

Marc Leishamn took it on the chin last weekend and that should only lower his ownership. Marc is a great tough conditions player but he showed you how tough it is for both the good and bad wind players in difficult conditions. Leishman has struggled here in the past but prior to last week his form was solid. If playing the wind and hoping to get four through a core of Lowry, Fitz, Hatton and Leishamn could pay off over the weekend.

Si Woo Kim won’t be sneaky but won’t be chalky either. We all know he does his best on Pete Dye courses. Si Woo has been playing good golf all year. He has shown the ability to get very hot with the irons. Kim is one of the better wind players to.

At the bottom of this range we find Chris Kirk, Tom Hoge and Talor Gooch. All three deserving to find the player pool due to recent form. I imagine Kirk to be the most popular due to his outstanding play while being solid at TPC Sawgrass. Gooch has the irons to compete as shown last year. Hoge has just become solid lower tier play and has had success here. I will likely end up on 1-2 of them with Hoge leasing the way followed by Kirk and and Gooch.

A solid pivot off all three and probably lower owned is Alex Noren. He has made four cuts in a row with two T10’s. Keep in mind the two T10’s came on the shorter courses of the four. In addition he has just as good history as the above three here.

A few others I am considering and I am sure a few will make the pool would be and in no order. Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Max Homa, Sergio Garcia, and Abe Ancer.

Value Tier
Not so sure how much I will dip down here as we don’t really need to. Yes we have some fliers below and yes a bunch of these players will make the cut. In the end they are all similar, inconsistent, and picking who shines isn’t the easiest.

Tee to green play has been very good for Mito Perira. The results have been solid. With the strength of the field I don’t see many clicking on him.

KH Lee is a player who should play well here as it would appear a solid set up for him. Lee is good around the green while playing solid in other aspects. He has made every cut so far this season and showed better results on the shorter courses.

As the week progresses I am sure I will add 1-2 more value plays. Let’s have another great week while we Run Pure!


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