Coop’s Players Championship Preview
This week we are headed to Florida for the final time this season for the most prestigious tournament outside the four majors, The Players Championship played at TPC Sawgrass. This will also be the last time this tournament is played in May as it returns to March next year. Speaking of next year we should receive the PGA tour schedule for next year as the goal was for it to be released this week. The defending champion of the Players Championship is Si Woo Kim, while the previous two years we saw Jason Day and Rickie Fowler walk away winners. The winning score is typically around -13 as we usually see a group of 3-5 players break away from the rest of the T15-20 players.
If you are having a casual conversation with a friend and the someone mentions TPC Sawgrass the first thing that comes to your mind is the par 3 17th hole island green as it is one of the most popular holes on tour. If your a professional golfer having the same casual conversation the first thing to come up will probably be the difficult greens. Next to Augusta National, TPC Sawgrass presents the most challenging greens on tour as the TifEagle Bermuda grass is lightning fast, smaller than the average green on tour and difficult to hold the ball on the green. The greens are one of two defense mechanisms that is provided by TPC Sawgrass and in the past some players have called them unfair. TPC Sawgrass isn’t a long par 72 course as it only plays at around 7200 while it is a course that can reward you one day and kick you in the butt the following day. The second defense for TPC Sawgrass is the wind and when it is down you can score a seven under 65 but when it is up you can walk away with a seven over 79. TPC Sawgrass is not a bombers paradise as there are many holes that will require you to club down in order to hit the proper side of the fairway so you have the proper angle to the green. I could list for you the par 3, 4, and 5 holes that play easy and or difficult but that seams to change each year due to the conditions but what I can tell you is that all the par 5’s play under par and holes 13-18 minus 16 account for the highest amount of double bogeys or worse each year.
Key Stats For The Week
Though it is not necessarily a stat, one of the more important factors that will lead to my player pool this week is who plays well on Pete Dye designed courses. Dye is know for his diabolical courses that some people consider tricked up. If you take a deep look at results you will often see familiar names near the top of the leaderboards at Dye designed courses that are played on the PGA tour. Some of those courses would include Harbour Town Golf Links, TPC Louisiana, and TPC River Highlands. I saw a stat the other day that mentioned ten of the last fourteen winners of the Players Championship finished in the T10 for the week in SG Approach and only one winner finished outside the T20. As mentioned before TPC Sawgrass is a course that you can score on so I will be targeting birdie makers, birdie or better % but yet at the same time the course can eat you alive so I am looking for players who have limited there bogeys, bogey avoidance. My last stat this week will be scrambling % because you will need a solid short game to manage par when you miss greens.
Impeccable Course History
I will start this week off talking about the players by discussing course history and the people who rely on this metric to determine there player pool may struggle this week. When looking at the individual results for the player field this week it is easy to determine that every player is suspect to a missed cut minus a few players and often you will see even the best players have missed multiple cuts. The best player who has not missed a cut in the past twelve years is Sergio Garcia (9.0k) and as a result he should draw high ownership. Garcia has recorded five T8 finishes including a win and two runner ups over the time frame mentioned above. Garcia fits the ball striking type of player we are looking for this week but what is concerning for Garcia is he has missed his last two cuts leading into this week. In the last two tournaments at TPC Sawgrass Garcia has finished 30th and 54th which is two of his worse three finishes over the last twelve years. Before moving forward your first decision needs to be what do I do with Garcia this week.
The next player who will draw plenty of ownership this week is Zach Johnson (7.5k) who has missed one cut over the past twelve years at TPC Sawgrass. Johnson hasn’t had the success that Garcia has posting only one T10 with a couple finishes in the low teens but I am sure that will not keep the course history buffs away from him. What bodes well for Johnson this week is he has been playing solid golf leading into the Players Championship with finishes of 5th, 42nd and 36th over his last three tournaments. Johnson is not a long hitter in general so TPC Sawgrass plays into his game style as he is an accurate driver of the ball.
The final player who has supreme course history is a surprising one and he is the player that interests me the most, Martin Kaymer (6.9k). Kaymer is nine for nine at TPC Sawgrass and with out a doubt he will draw the lowest ownership of the three players mentioned. I have played Kaymer recently and he has been owned at under 2% each week and I doubt he gets much higher this week. Kaymer hasn’t had great finishes at TPC Sawgrass minus his win as he has only finished in the T20 two other times. So why am I interested in Kaymer? Kaymer has the ability to finish just as well as Johnson while Garcia is questionable in my mind based upon his form entering this tournament. In addition Kaymer will come in at lower ownership, a cost savings, and could easily be your sixth player on a team.
Who Do You Pay Up For This Week
This week Rory McIlroy (11.6k) earns the designation as the highest priced player and it will be interesting to see how many people are on McIlroy this week. It would appear that McIlroy has finally figured out how to play TPC Sawgrass after he missed the cut in his first three appearances as he has finished 35th, 12th, 8th, 6th and 8th in his last five trips. I have no problem playing McIlroy as you can make solid lineups with him this week plus if you look at the last three results from the Players Championship the top ten is loaded with players who were most likely priced u see 8k. If McIlroy brings his putter this week it could be lights out for the rest of the field.
I was on Jason Day (11.4k) last week and was fortunate that he walked away with a win and I wonder how many people will go back to the well this week. Many people don’t like playing the winner from the previous week as it is difficult to go back to back on the PGA tour so will that knock down his ownership? Day has made four of seven cuts at TPC Sawgrass including a win two years ago so will that pull people onto him this week? In all honesty the biggest reason I will be off Day this week is his ball striking has been suspect all season.
I think it is safe to say that no other course than TPC Sawgrass has been a thorn in the side of Jordan Spieth (11.1k). Spieth has missed his last three cuts at the Players Championship while he placed fourth the first year he played here. You can’t blame bad form as Spieth has always been solid heading into this week. So what is it that gets Spieth all out of whack when he walks on the grounds of TPC Sawgrass? I am sure that is a question that we would all like to know the answer to, including Spieth. When you look at his rounds over the last three years he missed the cut one year because he didn’t make enough birdies and finished -1 while the other two years he had a round of 75 which took him out. What’s even more crazy is Spieth shot a 66 in his first professional round at TPC Sawgrass and then followed it up with a 67 the next day. Since that day he has not broke 71 at TPC Sawgrass. Playing Spieth this week will be interesting because he was 20% owned last year coming off two missed cuts which makes me wonder if he will still be highly owned this year.
The knock on Justin Thomas (10.8k) coming into this year was his consistency or the lack of it. This will be the ultimate test for Thomas because there are double bogeys lurking all over this course. So far this year Thomas has proven his critics wrong as he has made all eleven cuts while his worse finish is 22nd. Dating back to last year Thomas has made 17 consecutive cuts and if he can make it through the cut this week he should be able to get the consistency monkey off his back. Thomas could end up being a great GPP play this week because the DFS community has the tendency to ignore him when he is priced up with other top ranked players in the world. This will be the fourth appearance at TPC Sawgrass for Thomas as he missed the cut last year while finishing 3rd and 24th previously.
I saw a tweet Monday morning that said Dustin Johnson (10.3k) and Bubba Watson have no T10 finishes in nineteen tries at TPC Sawgrass and that should tell everyone what type of player we should be looking at this week. DJ will be interesting this week since his #1 ranking in the world is on the line if he doesn’t finish 11th or better. In addition from a DFS perspective DJ is incredibly cheap this week which makes be believe he is the safest play for the players above 10k while having a ceiling just as high as the players above him. While DJ has never played great at TPC Sawgrass he hasn’t exactly been horrible making six of eight cuts with a 12th place finish last year being his best. DJ did play Harbour Town this year which should help him since the courses are somewhat similar in length and both designed by Pete Dye. What makes me feel comfortable playing DJ this week is you can still get plenty of other quality players in your lineup. Hopefully others will stay away from DJ this week due to his history but I am sure that price will draw many in.
I Burned You Last Week
I could have easily put the next player in the course history section above but I felt Hideki Matsuyama (8.5k) would be better served in this section. Mats wasn’t overly popular last week around 15% owned but he definitely left the bad taste in my mouth as I had him at almost 40%. Mats is a perfect four for four at TPC Sawgrass with finishes of 22nd, 7th, 13th and 23rd. Mats is the ball striker we are looking for this week but if he doesn’t bring his putter he could very easily finish like last week. Even though Mats is relatively cheap this week I suspect many will be off him as he is priced around several big name players this week.
When will the DFS community’s love for Tommy Fleetwood (8.2k) dissipate as he was on average 28% owned last week. Perhaps people will finally stop playing Fleetwood this week as he burned everyone who played him, including myself, with a missed cut. The problem is that Fleetwood is priced extremely cheap this week for his ability. Fleetwood has only played TPC Sawgrass once and that was last year finishing 41st. It would appear that the game style for Fleetwood would match up well with TPC Sawgrass as he is not overly long off the tee and is a solid ball striker. How much if any I play Fleetwood this week will be determined by his projected ownership because I will stay away if he is chalky once again.
Some may question why I put Tiger Woods (8.6k) in this section since he made the cut last week but he did underperform based on his salary. Woods was very good last week with his new irons while his putting was probably the worse we have seen since his return. I expect Woods to regain his putting this week as he prides himself as being the best and I am sure he has been on the practice green quite often since Sunday evening. Woods will be able to club down this week which will help his accuracy off the tee. What I like about Woods this week is in tournammets he has been able to club down off the tee he has performed very well. I like Woods this week and I hope his performance last week keeps some people away.
GPP Plays This Week
I must say I was shocked when I saw the results for Brandt Snedeker (7.4k) over his career at the Players Championship. I would have thought that Sneds game style would fit TPC Sawgrass since he is a solid accurate driver who putts and chips well. Sneds has missed six of nine cuts at TPC Sawgrass but he has shown some life over his career with finishes of 6th and 8th. Sneds finally appears to be playing some good golf with finishes of 15th and 23rd the last two times out. I am hoping the form continues for Sneds as I feel confident he will go overlooked in a price zone loaded with many other popular players.
If you are looking for a player who enjoys Pete Dye courses look no further than Branden Grace (7.4k). Grace was all set to play at Harbour Town a few weeks back but then he WD pre tourney as he welcomed in his first child. Grace has solid history at Harbour Town to go along with making all four cuts at TPC Sawgrass although his best finish is a 42nd. Upon taking some time off Grace was playing solid golf making all four stroke play tournammets with one T10. My only concern with Grace is that there is the potential that he plays like Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott have after they welcomed newborns into the world.
If you are looking for someone that the DFS community is currently down on then your man is Kevin Chappell (7.4k). Chappell has missed two of his last three cuts with a 30th place finish and believe it or not there will still be people who think his back is giving him issues from the WD at the WGC match play. Chappell has shown that he is not afraid of TPC Sawgrass as he has made five of seven cuts with a second place finish. I feel confident that Chappell will get lost amongst all the options within his price zone and I am hoping a couple weeks off has been good for his golf game.
I had Jimmy Walker (7.2k) on my list of GPP plays this week then I woke up Monday morning and saw this tweet from Kenny Kim, “Jimmy Walker is peaking my interest at #THEPLAYERS. Been one of the best putters here over the years. More 3 putts at Sawgrass than all non Major courses and JW is 1st in field in 3PA in his career. Plus his iron game is trending up and his OTT weakness will be muted. I’m scared”. In addition I found a few other sharp DFS players mention him as a potential sleeper this week. Walker has mixed results at TPC Sawgrass missing three of eight cuts including two in the last three years but he also has two T15 finishes which shows he is capable of playing the course well. Walker arrives this week in solid form making his last five cuts with only one finish outside the T33. I imagine many will be sleeping on Walker this week and it won’t take much to be overweight on his low ownership.
Last week Webb Simpson (7.3k) was fairly chalky at 20% and while he made the cut he really didn’t do anything special to warrant his ownership. I am hoping that for the reason above many people walk away from Simpson this week. Simpson has played TPC Sawgrass eight times over his career with half of those appearances ending on Friday afternoon while his best finishes have been 15th and 16th. Simpson continues to play solid golf since changing his putting grip last year making his last six stroke play tournament cuts with three T10 finishes. Simpson is 1.1k cheaper this week than last week and I don’t see how you can’t play him.
I am not quite sure were the DFS community is going to land on Jon Rahm (9.3k) this week but I am hoping he goes overlooked. I am hoping people look at his game style and see him as the big hitter that the course doesn’t fit and his temper will get the best of him. Let’s face it, Rahm had one bad round last year which obviously hurt but he also had two good rounds. I am willing to look past his one bad round last year as I am confident he will learn from his mistakes last year. People seem to forget that Rahm hasn’t missed a cut in several tournammets and that he is the number three ranked player in the world who is priced very low in my opinion.
I Need To Qualify For The US Open
One of the ways you can qualify for the US Open is being ranked 60th or better in the world golf rankings on two key dates, May 21st and June 11th. The date of May 21st can pretty much be ignored as the date should be May 14th, the day after the Players Championship. The reason I say this is because the field for the AT&T Byron Nelson next week, were the date falls at the completion, is not a strong field and many of the players who are close to T60 are not playing.
I am pretty sure that Charles Howell understands were he stands as far as getting into the US Open as he is currently ranked 61st. CH3 has already committed to next weeks tournament and that should not come as a surprise due to his results at the Players Championship. CH3 has missed seven of his last eleven cuts while never finishing better than 52nd. Sorry Charles but you will not be in my player pool this week.
Last week I had Charl Schwartzel (7.3k) in my player pool and was pleased with his results as he pulled out a T10. Schwartzel picked up five spots last week to move to 62nd in the world increasing his chances of making the US Open. Schwartzel was less than 1% owned last week and I wouldn’t expect him to be more than 3-5% this week. Schwartzel has average at best course history at the Players Championship making 5/7 cuts but his best finish is 26th. As long as Schwartzel stays at that 3% or less I will play him but I am not sure he is more than a cut maker who you hope is your sixth of six on your team.
I could have easily put Ryan Moore (7.3k) in the I Burned You Last Week section as he missed the cut at around 13% ownership last week. Moore is currently ranked 65th in the world and I am sure he will come in as a low owned player this week due to his missed cut. Moore has made eight of eleven cuts at TPC Sawgrass but his best finish is a 26th. Moore is like Schwartzel this week but I am surprised he hasn’t had a better finish as it seems TPC Sawgrass would hit his game style.
Emilliano Grillo (7.5k) is an interesting play this week as he has been playing very good golf recently. The 65th player in the world has made his last six stroke play tournament cuts finishing no worse than 26th while placing in the T10 four times. Grillo has only played TPC Sawgrass twice finishing 11th last year while missing the cut the previous years. Grillo has been chalky lately and I feel he will once again end up being the chalk in this price range although he does have the benefit that there are several other options priced right around him.
I will need to take a deep dive into Andrew Landry (6.8k) before I decide to play him this week. Landry is the 66th ranked player in the world and the first thing I need to determine is why he WD last week. This will be the first appearance for Landry at TPC Sawgrass which scares me but he is a very good ball striker. In general Landry has not played well in Florida this year but he does have a solid finish of 42nd at the RBC Heritage a few weeks back and placed 4th at the RSM Classic earlier this year. I know Landry won’t be popular but I am not sure I can get him at under 2% due to his win a few weeks ago at the Valero Texas Open.
Another interesting play this week is Chesson Hadley (7.4k) who comes in ranked 67th in the world. Hadley has also been playing very good golf making his last five cuts which resulted in four T20 finishes. Most recently Hadley has been a chalky play but this week may be different as he is in a price range that offers many options. In addition Hadley has two missed cuts at TPC Sawgrass in three attempts while a 24th is the best he has been able to achieve. Hadley is playing some of the best golf of his career and he is a solid ball striker so a T20 finish this week should come as no surprise.
I have no interest in the 70th ranked player in the world, James Hahn. As I have said before Hahn excels on the west coast and that is were I prefer to play him.
Fortunately I have kept myself away from Adam Scott (7.4k) over the past two weeks and the smart play would be to make it three weeks. Scott has already entered the Byron Nelson as the 71st player in the world which shows the lack of confidence he has in his game. The one bright spot for Scott is he is heading to familiar grounds were he is comfortable playing. Scott has posted two T10’s and a handful of T20’s at TPC Sawgrass but his current form is in shambles. For me Scott has been to chalky at his low price the past few weeks but is this the week that everyone jumps off him and he falls below 5% ownership? If Scott comes in at less than 5% I may have to give him some consideration this week even with his poor performances recently.
I don’t have much interest in Keegan Bradley (6.9k) this week as he comes in ranked 76th in the world. Bradley has made four of seven cuts at TPC Sawgrass but his best finish is a pair of 35th place. I don’t see the upside in Bradley and consider him a low owned player who could be your sixth of six players making the cut.
Much like every week Kevin Na (7.2k) is a boom or bust player and this week is no different. The 76th ranked player in the world has missed five of ten cuts at TPC Sawgrass but does have three T10 finishes. Na enters this week missing his last two cuts this year while in his last two years at TPC Sawgrass he has WD and MC. This means everything is lining up for Na to continue trolling the DFS community with a T10 finish at very low ownership. I may throw Na in a few lineups but it won’t be many.
I don’t have to much interest in the 78th ranked player in the world, Billy Horschel (7.6k). Horschel has pretty decent course history at TPC Sawgrass making 3 of 5 cuts with finishes of 28th, 13th and 26th. Horschel does enter this week in good form finishing 5th and 11th in his last two stroke play tournaments. I will have to do some deep digging to determine if I want Horschel this week since he is priced up in my opinion but I am sure he will be low owned.
As of this writing Charl Schwartzel, Ryan Moore, Emilliano Grillo, Andrew Landry and Keegan Bradley have not committed to the AT&T Byron Nelson next week.
Deep GPP Plays
If your playing in the $5 drive the green this week with over 160,000 entries and you are looking to win you will need to find that low owned player, less than 1%, who ends up in the T10 look no further than these players. My first dumpster diver is Jonas Blixt (6.7k) who is a local to the Jacksonville area and has played TPC Sawgrass multiple times. Blixt played well last week at the Wells Fargo tournament and he should carry that momentum into this week were he has shown in the past that he has the ability to T25.
Someone that very few people will be playing this week is Matthew Fitzpatrick (7.2k), the 38th ranked player in the world. It wasn’t to long ago that Fitzpatrick ripped off eight consecutive T20 finishes on the Euro tour including a win. For two years people said Fitzpatrick would be a good fit at another Pete Dye course, Harbour Town. For two years Fitzpatrick missed the cut but then came this year were he finished 13th. This will be the third year for Fitzpatrick at TPC Sawgrass were he has missed the cut his previous two years. I feel confident that Fitzpatrick will make the cut this week and post good results.
Shane Lowry (7.0k) is another player that I feel very few people will be on this week. I played Lowry quite often at the beginning of the year to only be disappointed with his sub par results and missed cuts. It appears that Lowry is now on the upside as he has made his last two cuts with finishes of 34th and 14th. Lowry has a 16th place finish at TPC Sawgrass to go along with his two missed cuts so we know he has the ability to play well this week. Lowry should be a motivated player this week since one of his favorite tournaments to participate in is the US Open, which he has yet to qualify for. Lowry ranks 82nd in the world so he needs a couple solid finishes to get in the T60 or one big T5.
Other Players I Like
Other Players I Will Fade
That’s all for this week, good luck to everyone! Thanks