The Tour heads back to Florida this week for The 2018 Players Championship. As most of you know, The Players takes place at TPC Sawgrass (7,189 yards, Par 72), which is located in Ponte Vedra Beach. Si Woo Kim shocked the golf world and won this event last season, at ten strokes under par and all of the last nine winners have broken double digits in their victories. First off, this is a Pete Dye designed course, so it may be on the shorter side, but it is still a very difficult test due to its small greens and plethora of hazards. The course got revamped before last season’s tournament, as all of the greens were redone and holes 6,7, and 12 saw some changes. None are that major, outside of hole 12, which is a par four, that is now very reachable in one shot. Many different types of golfers have won here in the past, but this is definitely a course that favors accuracy over distance.
These fairways are narrow and there are so many hazards in play, that you need to be a strong driver of the golf ball to succeed. Not only does your off the tee game matter, but since these are some of the smallest greens on Tour, you need to be accurate with your irons as well, putting a heavy emphasis on ball striking, as this stat combines total driving and greens in regulation. Scoring on both the par fours and fives is important, but shooting low numbers on the par fours has been more of a trend of success at TPC Sawgrass over the last two years, with both of the past two winners leading the field in this stat. This is one of the most popular events on Tour every season and it is because of it’s extremely strong field of players. It may not be a major, but this is the best field you will see all season, with all of the top 50 ranked players in the world teeing it up. Now, since this is awesome group of players I recommended playing a little more than normal amount of bankroll this week, but I wouldn’t go as heavy you do with the majors, as this stop has been a very tough one to predict in the past. @Hunta512.
Zach Johnson: (7,500)
ZJ has been a model of consistency this season. He has yet to miss a cut in ten starts and has finished inside the top 30 in seven of those events. The last time he teed it up, he posted his second top ten of the season, with a T5 at The Texas Open three weeks ago. Now, he makes his way to TPC Sawgrass, where he has been a cut making machine for all of his career, making 12/13 cuts overall, with two top tens. Johnson has never been someone who stands out statistically, but his rankings have been solid over his last 12 rounds, ranking 30th in SGT2G, 21st in SG APP, 74th in GIR, 51st in ball striking, 43rd in par four scoring, 74th in par five scoring, 19th in BOB%, and 22nd in SGP. (via Fantasy National)
He has also shot under par in six of his last eight rounds, while racking up 35 birdies in his past two starts. He isn’t going to win, but Johnson is a pretty strong bet to make the cut this weekend at The Players. For a tournament that always tends to be volatile, I think relying on Johnson’s safety at this reasonable cost makes a ton of sense.
Adam Hadwin: (7,300)
He didn’t start the season off that hot, but Hadwin’s game has been trending up over the last two and half months, with five straight top 25 finishes, including two top tens. Furthermore, he hasn’t missed a cut all season, in 12 total starts. He has been an excellent iron player recently, ranking 5th in SGT2G, 5th in SG APP, and 3rd in GIR over his last 24 rounds. Additionally, during this span, he ranks 20th in par four scoring, 75th in par five scoring, 32nd in ball striking, 28th in BOB%, and 10th in bogeys avoided. (via Fantasy National)
He failed to make the cut in his first attempt at TPC Sawgrass three years ago, but he proceeded to make the cut the next two seasons, with a T39 in 2016 and a T30 last season. Plus, in the only other event he faced a Pete Dye design this season, he played great, with a T3 at The Career Builder Challenge, which is his highest finish of the 2018 season. In this current form, Hadwin is a hard value play to ignore, that should make the cut, but also has top 20 upside.
Patrick Cantlay: (7,500)
Outside of his MC at The Masters, which is his only MC of the season, Cantlay has a had a tremendous year. He picked up a win at The Shriners Hospitals for Children’s Open back in November and has finished in the top 30 six total times, including a T7 at The RBC Heritage in his last start, which is also a Pete Dye course. This was his only event on a Dye track this season, but when comparing all of these golfers last 12 rounds on a Pete Dye design, he ranks 7th in SGT2G, 3rd in par four scoring, and 5th in ball striking. (via Fantasy National) On top of that, he ranks 11th in ball striking, 19th in GIR%, 39th in par four scoring, and 33rd in BOB% this season.
By far, at only $7,500, Cantlay is one of the best values available when comparing Vegas odds to the DraftKings’ pricing, with him currently sitting at 50/1 to win this weekend. (via Bovada) I think a play like Johnson (above) is better for cash games, but for GPPs, Cantlay has excellent upside at this soft price tag.
Bryson DeChambeau: Hard to say what his ownership will be like (9-12% via Fantasy Labs), because he has never played here, but Bryson is simply too cheap for the way he is playing right now. He has posted a top five in three of his last four starts and has 40/1 odds. (via Bovada) His stats have been just incredible in his last three starts, ranking 3rd in SGT2G, 1st in SG APP, 1st in ball striking, 3rd in par four scoring, and 9th in BOB%. (via Fantasy National) DeChambeau will be one of my most heavily used players this week.
Billy Horschel: Playing well right now, finishing with a T5 at The Heritage (Pete Dye) and then a T11 at The Texas Open in his last two starts. Plus, he is a Florida Native and proud Gator, who is 3/5 at TPC Sawgrass, with all of those made cuts being top 30s. Don’t even think about using him in cash games, but in GPPs, he is an awesome gamble, that should go under owned. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
Ian Poulter: 11/14 at this track and has made four straight cuts, with a huge win at The Houston Open. He is coming off a T7 at The RBC Heritage and ranks 5th in BOB% in his last 12 rounds. (via Fantasy National)
Cameron Smith: MC cut here last season, but he is an improved player this year and this just helps his GPP stock, as most may avoid him because of this. (5-8% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs) He is 8/9 in cuts this season and he also has the advantage that he lives close by in Jacksonville.
Rory Sabbatini: Quietly, he has made 11 straight cuts, but he is better for GPPs, as he is 8/16 at TPC Sawgrass for his career.
Nick Watney: 10 straight made cuts and finished T2 last week at The Wells Fargo, where he led the field in GIR, at 81.9%. He is only 4/9 here, but if you believe in riding form, Watney should be considered this week.