Expert Picks for THE PLAYERS Championship
Widely respected as one of the most illustrious and historic sites for golf in the country, feared as one of the most challenging and difficult tracks on the PGA Tour, TPC Sawgrass resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida -- situated between Jacksonville and St. Augustine. It is consistently ranked among the top golf resorts in the world and provides the Tour with one of the best sites it will visit each and every season. Designed by the great Pete Dye, the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is going to provide golfers with new and innovative challenges this season, having undergone an extensive restoration process begun in 2006. A new state-of-the-art drainage system was installed throughout the course to help encourage "firm and fast" conditions, both on the greens and fairways. Trees, including oak, pine, and palms, were planted throughout the course to add obstacle and demand strategic shot placement throughout the journey around the course. There are no definitive benefits to any particular strength at this course. Only a good all-around effort will prove victorious, as the list of recent winners – including Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Adam Scott, Fred Funk, Stephen Ames, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, and defending champ Tim Clark – indicates. Those golfers can go long, but they also put work in with the irons and putter, two of the more difficult tasks golfers will find at the TPC Sawgrass. The best golfers in the world descend on this course for a reason. Their overall skills separate them from the pack, and the true will be said at the end of this week.
Luke Donald [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #3
With the momentum Donald brings forward, matched with his history of performance at the TPC Sawgrass, it is more than difficult to imagine he won't be at or near the top of the final leaderboard on Sunday. He may be the best in the business at this moment.
Phil Mickelson [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #10
Lefty has some volatile history at this particular course, but he has seen improved finishes over recent seasons at this event. He's been one of the more rewarding fantasy commodities this season and we like him to continue that play in one of the top non-majors of the year.
Lee Westwood [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #11 - Not Entered
Westwood joined the chase for the oversized check at this event last season, but came up a bit short. Beyond that, his history on this course is somewhat humble while his struggles to maintain a peak level of consistent performance leaves us wondering if Westwood is a wise wager.
Ian Poulter [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #12
Poulter has struggled to serve the fantasy faithful in beneficial manner this season, but this is one track on which we want to wager in his direction. The vast majority of his work at THE PLAYERS has been rather impressive and few can compete with that history this week.
Martin Kaymer [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #28
We came into this season proclaiming Kaymer would be the game's most dominating force. Instead, he has struggled to put it all together. He hasn't been horrible, but he hasn't been the best player in the world either. He needs to get back in the hunt if we're going to give him proper rank for his talents.
Matt Kuchar [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #9
Kuchar has been quietly effective for most fantasy owners this season, rarely filing a disappointing start despite the lack of victory on the resume thus far. He's been there on Sunday several times this season and his work at the TPC Sawgrass last season suggests he'll be in the mix.
Jim Furyk [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #27
We have to get Furyk in the top ten regardless of venue or conditions, though we warn his history at THE PLAYERS is a bit checkered. Still, few can match Furyk's history at this set of links and we've seen the penchant to push for wins on Sunday too often this season to ignore.
Ben Crane [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #106
Crane is one of our top picks of the week as he happens to own a brief-yet-potent record of performance on the TPC Sawgrass. In fact, his short PLAYERS resume may be the most impressive of the bunch. As such, we want to insure he's on your radar.
Nick Watney [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #23
Watney, like Kuchar, has been almost as good as advertised. You just don't know he has yet to get a 2011 win. Based on the way he played at this event last season, we are betting Watney gets in the hunt to change that (again) this weekend.
Sergio Garcia [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #17
We are officially buying our way back into the Sergio fan club after another worthy performance at Quail Hollow. As luck would have it, these two tourneys may be two of the most promising for Garcia, and with his stock and game on the rise, he seems like an outstanding sleeper for the week.
Bubba Watson [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #13
We rarely wager on Watson with our own roster, but it seems we may need to revise our strategy. The win two weeks ago was another in a growing string of outstanding performances on the Tour and, while he lacks history at THE PLAYERS, we struggle to suggest he lacks momentum.
Of the two Molinari brothers in the field this week we are wasting no time in throwing our vote to Francesco. Edoardo has spent more time than most in the States and has struggled, while Francesco seems to thrive in spot action, much like he did at THE PLAYERS in 2010.