The Tour lands at TPC Sawgrass this weekend for THE PLAYERS Championship, one of the biggest non-major events of the season. Most of the best players in the world are on hand, including the entire top ten in the Official World Golf Rankings. In what is both a talented and deep field, you will need to choose wisely in every price range.
Jordan Spieth ($11,400) – The fact is, if you are going with multiple lineups this weekend, you are going to want at least one with every one of these top five guys in it – there are so many reasons to like all of them. But me just recommending the ten most expensive golfers on the board would be boring, and pretty unhelpful. So if I am set on having one of the three $11K+ priced golfers in my lineup this weekend, for me it’s Spieth. He finished T4 in his first appearance here last year, and despite his lack of wins since January, he is still top-20 in the All-Around Ranking and both Strokes Gained categories.
Rickie Fowler ($10,600) – There has never been a champion at The PLAYERS who returned to win the following year, at least in part because the field is always just so deep. In other words, if Fowler wants a repeat of last year’s performance, he will have to beat back plenty of challengers. But the way he dominated the toughest stretch on the course last year suggests he can perform well here again. He also had a T2 here four years ago, and has finished outside the top ten only three times so far in 2016. With so much talent to choose from, that’s a combination of consistency and upside that is hard to ignore.
Sergio Garcia ($9,900) – A winner here back in 2008, Garcia has also been inside the top-10 here multiple times in the past few years. Perhaps more relevantly, he is also currently sixth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, a stat that is great because it combines two different but very related skills: creating scoring chances and capitalizing on them. When Garcia is comfortable and playing well, he can do both – hit fairways and greens and recover nicely when he doesn’t. He’ll look to a course where he has had success to translate those skills and return to the form that got him two top-11 finishes as recently as early March.
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,700) – He has been here twice and has finished inside the top-25 both times, and he has been no worse than T11 in his last three outings. At the Wells Fargo, he overcame an opening-round 74 for that T11 by shooting 70-69 over the weekend and holing a total of 16 birdies. And if the Tee to Green stat is a reason to like Garcia, Matsuyama one-ups him, currently sitting at fifth overall in the world in that category.
Danny Willett ($8,900) – He missed the cut last year in his debut in this tournament, so maybe that keeps his ownership % down, because with the way he has been playing lately, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see his price a little higher than it is here. Yes, he won the Masters, but there is a lot more to it than that. This is a guy with 13 top-10s since the beginning of the 2015 season between the PGA and European Tours and who is actually only picking up the pace right now, with a win in Dubai in February and a pair of solo-3rds after that, all topped off with that green jacket.
Branden Grace ($8,600) – His unexpected withdrawal from the Wells Fargo Championship last weekend might keep some owners away, but there were no reports of an injury we should be wary of, so there is no reason to expect a drop-off from his recent form. He is another player, like Willett, with no real impressive course history to fall back on as a reason for drafting him, so you have to look at how well he is playing, and how he is doing it. Since missing the cut at Augusta, he won the RBC Heritage despite a 74 on Friday, on the back of rounds of 66 bookending his weekend. He then followed that up with a T9 at the Valero Texas Open without a single round over par. He averaged just under 90 DKFP in those two performances, showing a real ability to grab birdies whenever they were available.
“He has four finishes inside the top-15 in five appearances on the PGA Tour this season”
Louis Oosthuizen ($8,400) – This is just really cheap for someone who has done basically nothing but succeed all year long – he has four finishes inside the top-15 in five appearances on the PGA Tour, to go along with another three top-15s in four tries on the European Tour, all since the beginning of 2016. A top-15 finish this weekend makes $8,400 a bargain, and he has the upside to finish higher than that.
Daniel Berger ($8,000) – He has been inside the top-20 in each of his last five appearances, and while that has included some gritty performances on tough tracks, it has also included plenty of scoring when he has needed it. He managed a +1 at Augusta, never letting a round slip completely away from him in tough conditions to finish T10, and he also holed 23 birdies at the Houston Open to finish -11 and secure a T5 spot on the leaderboard.
Kevin Na ($7,800) – We haven’t seen him since the RBC Heritage three weeks ago, but he played that weekend out at 66-69 on Saturday and Sunday to finish T4. Another player who has been consistently at the top of the Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green stats, he is currently ranked 12th overall in that particular stat, just about halfway between Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth. He has played well here in the past, with a handful of top-ten finishes, and that ability he showed to make birdies last weekend suggests he could be primed to do it again.
Martin Kaymer ($7,200) – He has never missed a cut here, and he has played reasonably well recently, recording a T6 in Spain a few weeks ago, and then making the cut but having to settle for T41 after a brutal 77 on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Championship a few days ago. He bounced back nicely from that with a 69 on Sunday though – exactly the kind of resilience he will need to perform here the way he has in the past. He likely makes a better cash game option than tournament play at this point, because he is almost positively worth 50+ DKFP, but is probably not taking home the title.
“The Argentinian is only 23-years-old, and is already showing a lot of composure in loaded fields…”
Emiliano Grillo ($6,700) – The Argentinian is only 23-years-old, and is already showing a lot of composure in loaded fields. He hasn’t missed a cut since January, a run that was highlighted by two top-20 performances, including a T17 at the Masters. He holed four birdies in the final five holes on Sunday that weekend, showing up with his full arsenal on the biggest stage. You’re going to have to trust someone in this price range if you’re relying on the top-priced options to anchor your squad, and, sitting just outside the top-50 in the All-Around Ranking, Grillo has as much upside as anyone else in this vicinity.
Bernd Wiesberger ($6,500) – He has yet to break through with a signature performance, but he has been close. He finished T14 at the WGC-Cadillac, a weekend ruined by a 74 on Saturday. He shot three rounds at Augusta at +1, but shot 70 on Saturday to ruin any chances he had of finishing well. But he is averaging 14 birdies per tournament over his last three, all made cuts with deep fields (WGC-Cadillac, Houston Open and The Masters), and for this price, a made cut and 15 birdies could go a long way.