The Players Championship is played every May at TPC Sawgrass in Pontre Vedra, FL. It’s often thought of like an unofficial fifth major, and one look at the field tells you the players agree. Here is a look at which players you will want to target for your rosters, at every price level. Good luck.
Rory McIlroy ($13,200) – He won at the Match Play Championship last weekend, he finished 4th at the Masters the week before, and he is just consistently in contention. When he is playing well, he seems like he can birdie anything. He’s had some down performances on this course in the past, but there is no reason to expect that to continue forever.
Jordan Spieth ($12,800) – Yup, he won the Masters. But it’s not just that he has two wins, a 2, a T2 and a T11 in his last five. If he keeps playing like this, this will be the year of Spieth, no matter how well guys like McIlroy can play. And those types of years just seem like they should be commemorated with a PLAYERS win. And if you want something more quantifiable, Spieth has needed only one putt on 44% of his holes this year (third on Tour), evidence of both accurate approach shots and the hot putter you need to succeed on a stern all-around test like TPC Sawgrass. And he did finish T4 here last year. Just saying.
Dustin Johnson ($9,700) – Since he started playing again in February, he’s played in eight tournaments, and he has missed two cuts and has one T43. And that seems like a lot of downside for someone who is going to cost you substantial chunk of change. But then again, in the other five of those tourneys he has nothing worse than a T6.
Matt Kuchar ($9,400) – He finished 5th at the RBC Heritage, shooting four straight rounds under par, including a 66. He’s one of those expensive options who will almost certainly pay you some dividends, even if he doesn’t win the whole thing.
Adam Scott ($9,000) – He hasn’t had a really great showing since the WCG-Cadillac, but this level of talent at this price seems like something you stumble over after a minute of looking at your choices – “wait, HE’S playing too? What’s he doing down here?”
Tiger Woods ($8,900) – Tiger looked good at Augusta. He didn’t win, and maybe he’s not the dominant force he once was, but he demonstrated that he is still a competent professional golf player, capable of hanging with anyone when he is healthy. And he didn’t merely announce that he was playing The Players – he is playing the US Open, the Open Championship, Memorial, Greenbrier and the Quicken Loans National. You know he’s feeling good to give that much information up unprompted, and the full schedule makes it seem like he is trying to get back into the business of winning golf tournaments, not just chasing majors.
Rickie Fowler ($8,500) – He’s a player with the talent to actually look like the best golfer in the field this weekend if he is firing on all cylinders. And with group of players this talented, that’s saying something. A lot of guys could go out there and win and it would feel like a fluke – if Fowler wins it’s going to be because he has the most impressive shot-making of the entire weekend.
Luke Donald ($8,000) – A pure track record pick: he’s ten-for-ten in cuts made here. That’s hard to not notice.
Keegan Bradley ($7,900) – He’s been in the top-25 each of the last three weeks, and while I don’t love him to win this tournament outright, I think a very usable top-20 performance is well within reach.
Patrick Reed ($7,600) – He is capable of a birdie run to rival anyone else in this field, which means he can – at any point – put himself in a position to contend. More than one of those runs likely wins this tournament for him, and even just one could set your fantasy lineup up nicely.
Ryan Moore ($6,700) – Moore has been a solid play lately, and he has done it by playing rounds without a lot of bogeys. Normally, that means that there weren’t that many birdies either, compared to other players with similar final scores – so no bogeys is not necessarily a good thing. But in Moore’s case, he has enough birdies, and Sawgrass is the kind of course that requires a steady game, able to make all kinds of different shots – different lies, and distances, different shaping required – and Moore has the game take advantage of this course design and let it be a challenge for everyone else.
Graeme McDowell ($6,300) – He’s played well enough in Europe lately, and well enough in the States in the past, for me to think that the string of mediocre (at best) finishes in PGA Tour Events is just a fluke. A wonderful fluke that lowered his price tag for us all.