Pick to Win, Players to Watch, and Sleepers for THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
This is actually my favorite tournament of the year. While that is destined to change at some point, it is a nice mix of strong competition and players who are trying to get a chance on tour. Although it is not a major, the field would suggest otherwise. The 17th hole should provide great scenery, great entertainment, and a chance to see how calm and collected players are. To give you a taste of how strong this tournament is, Bubba Watson is listed at 40/1 odds, behind 11 other players.
Pick to Win:
Jordan Spieth (7/1): Last year, Spieth was so close at The Masters, but couldn’t quite pull off the win. This year, he took the lead early and never let it go. Last year, Spieth was in the final pairing at The Players, but let the win slip away. You can guess what is next. To get back on a more serious note, Spieth is ranked 8th in Strokes Gained: Putting, and 1st in Scoring Average. He might not hit the green as much as other pros (67% GIR), but 1) When he hits the green in regulation, he birdies slightly more than 38% of the time, and 2) he doesn’t need to hit the green in regulation to get a birdie. Also, in his last 11 tournaments, besides for a flukey missed cut, he hasn’t finished worse than T-17th, with three wins and eight top 7s.
Paul Casey (40/1): His course history is awful. In the last five years, he is 0/3 making the cut here, at a course where experience pays off. However, everything is aligning great for him to compete this week. This is a course that records good drivers, as Casey is. GIR%, SGP, and Scoring Average are also important stats this week, where Casey ranks 17th, 44th, and 13th on tour, respectively. He has been playing some great golf lately, with four top 10s in his last six tournaments, and a respectable playoff loss in the WGC Match Play in his head to head vs. Rory McIlroy. I’m going to roll the dice on Casey and say that bad history is better than no history at all, and hope his recent performance can make up for any confidence issues on this course.
Louis Oosthuizen (50/1): Oosthuizen seems to be healthy now, and is showing how good he is when he is at full strength. He still is highly inconsistent, but with six top 25s and two missed cuts in eight tournaments, you know what is the more likely scenario. Both of his missed cuts came when his SGP was under -1, so as long as he’s doing decent with his putter, he should be finding himself near the top of the leaderboard. His history here is not so great, with 3 missed cuts and a top 25 in his last 4 years. However, like Paul Casey, he is playing great golf, and has great stats for the course (9th in GIR%, 18th in Scoring Average). If he’s playing on the weekend, expect another top 25 from the inconsistent South African.
Daniel Summerhays (150/1): There is very little hype about him this week as a sleeper option for some reason. Fine with me. Good recent form? Check. Good course history? Check. Good stats. Check. Summerhays has made seven cuts in a row, including three top 20s, highlighted by a T-4th two tournaments ago at The Valero Texas Open. He has played this tournament the last two years, and finished T-23rd in 2014, and T-26th in 2013. This year, Summerhays’s driving accuracy and GIR% are lower than they usually are, but they still rank better than average. His Scoring Average is much improved despite, with him ranking 19th on tour this year in that stat. And at a course where putting is highly important, who would you trust more than Daniel Summerhays?
Spencer Levin (300/1): He hasn’t played this course since 2013, but with finishes of 15th, 12th, and 45th in 2012, 2011, and 2010, respectively, you can guess he’s excited to be back. And not just back at this course. He recently stated that the past few years, there have been some big events in his life that has made his love for golf disappear. But this year, he said he’s back to enjoying the game, and isn’t beating himself up for every bad shot like he used to. He has made 10 cuts this year compared to six missed cuts, and is coming in off a T-28th at The Zurich Classic. He has some really nice stats for the course as well, ranking 11th in Driving Accuracy, 50th in GIR%, 32nd in Ball Striking, and 97th in Scoring Average. His putting has really let him down, with only three tournaments above average in Strokes Gained: Putting. However, except for a T-51st at The Sony Open where his SGP was +0.877, every time his Strokes Gained: Putting has been better than -0.05 to the field, he has finished top 30. Basically, if he can just putt average, hes going to have a strong week. In the three previous appearances at this event, his SGP was +0.900, +0.000, and +0.997.
Edited by Robert Hess.
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