Par 72, 7,215 yards
The Players is known as the unofficial fifth major and is one of the most exciting stops on the PGA Tour calendar. The Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass was designed in 1980 by Pete Dye and has four par 5’s, four par 3’s and 10 par 4’s with Bermuda grass greens.
It sits on over 415 acres in the Florida swampland and contains narrow fairways lined with hazards like marshes and waste bunkers. It also a lot of strategically placed pot bunkers to catch even a slightly stray shot. The rough is very thick so players that are accurate off the tee are worth looking at. The course also features craters and mounds, tall, shot-obstructing palm trees and rock-hard, lightning-fast greens. The biggest feature is the island green on 17 which offers a lot of excitement throughout the week, most of all on Sunday.
In 2006, the organisers made this a very tricky test by bringing in a little more rough and altering the greens. Conditions tend to be fast and firm with more of a test off the tee with tricky doglegs both directions. Keep an eye on players that can shape the ball, good putters, accurate iron play and good scramblers. Other stats to consider here are par 3 scoring and par 5 scoring average. Its also worth considering looking at players that have gone well on other Pete Dye designed courses such as Hilton Head, host course of The RBC Heritage, TPC Louisiana which hosts the Zurich Classic and TPC River Highlands host of The Travelers Championship.
Jason Day 12/1
Quite surprising to see the Aussie at 12’s this week considering the form he is in. He played well at the weather stricken Zurich Classic in New Orleans recently finishing T5 and could have finished in a better position if it weren’t for the weather disruptions. He has had a good season so far with back to back wins in Bay Hill and The WGC Matchplay. He followed that with a T10 in Augusta and a T23 at The RBC Heritage in Hilton Head.
He has played well here in Sawgrass in the past finishing T19 in 2013 and T6 in 2011. He ranks second in strokes gained putting, 23rd in SGTTG and sixth in par 5 scoring. After dominating performances earlier in the season and after a break last week, Day could be a major threat here at a decent price. He always seems to bring his A game to the bigger events and I expect another solid performance this week.
Matsuyama had a mixed bag last week in Quail Hollow the first three rounds but finished strongly with a final round 69 to finish T11. He hasn’t finished worse than 18th in his last four tournaments and has already won on The PGA Tour this season beating Rickie Fowler in a playoff in Phoenix. He finished T11 last week in Charlotte, T7 at The Masters, T18 at The WGC Matchplay and T6 at The Arnold Palmer Invitational in Bay Hill.
He has played well here in the past finishing in a respectable T17 last year and T23 in 2014. He looks like a player that could suit this course and is hitting plenty of greens ranking 13th in GIR and fifth in strokes gained tee to green. Matsuyama looks to be hitting the ball great lately and could improve on his finish from last year.
The South African has been playing great golf over the last few months and looks like he is ready and waiting to win a big one any day now. He has shown some great form over the last few weeks and with the exception of a missed cut at The Masters, Grace hasn’t finished outside the top 25 in his last seven events. He started the year with a T4 at The SA Open and followed that with a T5 in Abu Dhabi, a win in Qatar, T23 in Doral, T18 at The Matchplay, a win at the tricky and tight Hilton Head at The RBC Heritage and a T9 in Texas.
Although he hasn’t the best record on this course over the last couple of years, statistically he looks a great fit here. He ranks 34th in scrambling, 23rd in GIR, 11th in SGTTG and second in par 4 scoring. With excellent current form Grace looks a superb value here this week.
Its Dannys first event since his dramatic win in Augusta and he will be fresh and ready to contend once again here at Sawgrass this week. The Englishman has been in fine form this season and with the exception of a T45 in Malaysia, he hasn’t finished outside the 30 in his last five events. He started the season with a win at The Dubai Desert Classic and followed that with a 3rd place finish in Doral, T22 at The Valspar, T28 at the Matchplay and a win in Augusta.
He has only played Sawgrass once, in 2014 and missed the cut but comes here in much better form this time around. He ranks 22nd in GIR, 22nd in Sand Saves and 12th in strokes gained tee to green. With this being a tight, tricky test with plenty of doglegs, Sawgrass could be right up Danny’s street.
Louis is playing some great golf at the moment and has taken some time off since the Masters, which could be a big positive here. Despite missing the cut in Houston, the South African hasn’t finished worse than 14th in his last six starts. He played well in Malaysia finishing T12 and followed that with a superb win in Perth which included a 64 in round 2. He then went on to finish T14 in Doral, T7 at The Valspar, second at The WGC Matchplay and T15 in Augusta which included an excellent hole in one on the par 3 16th in the final round.
His best finish at Sawgrass came in 2013 when he finished 19th but he could improve on that this time around. He ranks 12th in GIR and 23rd in stroke average this season and looks to have the game that could suit this course. Louis has been in good form this season and I expect that to continue here this week.
Final Selections –
Jason Day 12/1 2pts EW
Hideki Matsuyama 28/1 1pt EW
Branden Grace 45/1 1pt EW
Danny Willett 40/1 1pt EW
Louis Oosthuizen 55/1 1pt EW
Total staked = 12 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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