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Horses for Courses: THE PLAYERS Championship

6 Min Read

Horses for Courses

    Written by Mike Glasscott @MikeGlasscott

    All-time top 40 shots from THE PLAYERS

    The madness of March isn't reserved for just the hardwood across America. The PGATOUR shifted its schedule in 2019 to make sure its flagship event was reintroduced to one of the most active periods on the sporting calendar. The iconic THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass serves as the canvas to identify the artist who can tame Pete Dye's most challenging layout.

    On the scorecard Par-72 and 7,256 yards reads quite benign and nothing out of the ordinary on TOUR. A closer look reveals one of the most challenging mental and physical setups faced annually. Every major championship has its niche. The Masters is a scoring course where aggressive play is rewarded. The US Open tests all 14 clubs in the bag plus the space between the ears. The Open Championship adds weather and fescue to the proceedings while the PGA Championship adds brute force on some of the biggest ballparks around.

    I believe THE PLAYERS features the best of all four with a dash of Dye on top to make it special. Similar to the Masters, Dye rewards great, not good, shots on scoring holes and we're all familiar with the holes. The mind/eye design tricks, the 17 water penalty areas and NOT having consecutive holes run in the same direction forces players to have the concentration of a US Open. The Florida weather in March, and it's going to be a major factor this week, will resemble a warmer Open Championship. There's enough meat on the bones on the Par-4 holes where length is a factor like the PGA Championship. Sprinkle in the familiarity and volatility of the closing holes (Nos. 16, 17 and 18) and it's game on!

    The deepest field in golf features 46 of the top 50 players* in the OWGR and 121 from the top 125 in the 2021 FedExCup final standings will be rewarded with four rounds on TPC Sawgrass. The top 65 and ties will play the weekend. The richest prize in golf is also on the line as the prize pool of $20 million (up from $15 million last year) will pay first place $3.6 million and award a whopping 600 FedExCup points.

    *Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English, Kevin Na and Phil Mickelson all qualified but are not playing this week.

    Let's find some horses for courses!

    Horses for Courses

    Recent Winners
    entered this week
    (cuts made/events entered)
    Top 10Top 252022 BET MGM ODDS
    Win, Top 10, Top 20
    2021: Justin Thomas (6/6)24+1400; +150; -135
    2019: Rory McIlroy (6/11)45+2000; +200; -110
    2018: Webb Simpson (6/11)14+8000; +600; +300
    2017: Si Woo Kim (5/5)23+6600; +600; +275
    2016: Jason Day (7/10)45+6600; +600; +275
    Veteran Presence
    entered this week
    (cuts made/events entered)
    Top 10s Top 252022 BET MGM ODDS
    Win, Top 10, Top 20
    Lee Westwood (11/15)67+15000; +1000; +450
    Brian Harman (6/9)33+10000; +700; +333
    Paul Casey (5/13)25+6600; +600; +275
    Shane Lowry (3/6)12+4000; +400; +180
    Sergio Garcia (19/21)711+6600; +500; +240
    Daniel Berger (5/6)22+2500; +240; +120
    Jason Kokrak (3/8)11+8000; +600; +275
    Jhonattan Vegas (6/8)22+15000; +1000; +400
    Dustin Johnson (10/12)13+3300; +333; +150
    Brandt Snedeker (4/12)23+40000; +2800; +1100
    Justin Rose (10/16)25+10000; +700; +300
    Hideki Matsuyama (5/7)25+2800; +275; +130
    Jimmy Walker (7/11)23+50000; +4000; +1600
    Louis Oosthuizen (6/10)12+5000; +400; +180
    Ian Poulter (13/17)25+15000; +1100; +450
    Adam Scott (16/19)410+5000; +400; +175
    Francesco Molinari (5/10)4415000; +1400; +600
    Gaining Traction
    entered this week
    (cuts made/events entered)
    Top 10s Top 252022 BET MGM ODDS
    Win, Top 10, Top 20
    Talor Gooch (1/2)11+5000; +500; +225
    Corey Conners (2/2)11+5000; +400; +180
    Jon Rahm (4/4)12+1100; +125; -160
    Matt Fitzpatrick (3/5)11+3300; +300; +140
    Tommy Fleetwood (3/4)22+8000; +600; +275
    Harold Varner III (4/5)11+15000; +1200; +500
    Alex Noren (2/4)12+10000; +700; +300
    Xander Schauffele (1/3)11+2800; +250; +125

    Odds sourced on Tuesday, March 8 at 1 p.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.

    Recent Event Winner Stats

    WinnerJustin ThomasNo Event - CovidRory McIlroy
    Cut Even1-under
    Pretournament Odds+1800+1200
    All Drives3T4
    Putting: Birdie or Better %4T17
    SG: Off-the-Tee102
    SG: Approach-the-Green56
    SG: Around-the-Green1225
    SG: Putting4245
    SG: Tee-to-Green11
    Bogey AvoidanceT8T1
    Par-3 ScoringT471
    Par-4 ScoringT10T22
    Par-5 Scoring1T7
    TournamentsWon on 6th attemptWon on 10th attempt

    Extra Credit (players entered this week only)


    Winner Justin Thomas has circled the most birdies aggregate since 2015 and won in his sixth appearance. ... Lee Westwood (2nd) led after 36 and 54 holes and has posted seven, bogey free rounds here, the most since 2005. ... Brian Harman (T3) led the field in Putting: Birdie or Better Percentage, Putts/GIR and Strokes-Gained: Putting. ... Paul Casey (T5) co led the field in Par Breakers (22 birdies, 1 eagle) with Thomas and led the field in Par-4 scoring. ... Talor Gooch (T5) matched Casey with 22 birdies. ... Corey Conners (7th) opened with 68 and closed with 66 in his second visit. ... Shane Lowry (8th) made only two bogeys on the weekend and picked up his best payday in six trips. ... Daniel Berger (T9) was second best on the Par-5 holes (-12) to Thomas' tournament record tying -14. ... Matt Fitzpatrick (T9) was top six in both Fairways and GIR as he cashes for his first top 10 and third consecutive payday. ... Sergio Garcia (T9) opened with 65 to lead and extended his cuts made streak to 18 here. ... 2017 winner Si Woo Kim (T9) picked up his second top 10 and loves Dye tracks (AMEX winner). ... Jason Kokrak (T9) only made five bogeys but had a quad and a double! ... Jon Rahm (T9) backed up his T12 in 2019 and led the field GIR (58/72). ... Defending champion Rory McIlroy (MC) opened with 79. ... Just six bogey free rounds on the week and Westwood had two of them. ... Thomas set the closing 36 hole record with 64-68.


    Tournament was cancelled after one round because of COVID-19.


    Winner Rory McIlroy won his first PLAYERS in his 10th attempt for his 15th win on TOUR. ... Jhonattan Vegas (T3) co-led Par-5 scoring (-12) and T3 birdies (22). ... Tommy Fleetwood (T5) co led after 18 and 36 and played in the final group with Jon Rahm (T12). ... Dustin Johnson (T5) posted all four rounds in the 60s for the first time since Steve Elkington in 1997 and led the field in Par-4 scoring. ... Brandt Snedeker (T5) led the field in Par-Breakers (24) and co-led GIR (59) and birdies (23). ... 2016 winner Jason Day (T8) has hit the top 10 in three of his last five visits and will be playing in the honor of his recently passed mother this week. ... Hideki Matsuyama (T8) closed 66-67 and then opened 63 (tying the course record) in 2020 before it was cancelled. ... Justin Rose (T8) went out in 38 and played the rest of the week 14-under. ... Abraham Ancer (T12) co-led with 23 birdies on debut. ... Keegan Bradley (T16) shared the first round lead on 65 with Fleetwood. ... 2018 winner Webb Simpson (T16) joined the club of defending champions not to repeat or make the top 10. ... 14 bogey-free rounds. ... McIlroy and Thomas both join the Major/FedExCup Champion/WGC/PLAYERS club with Woods and Stenson.


    • Third week running on TifEagle Bermuda on the greens.
    • No repeat champions.
    • No multiple champions entered.
    • Last first time winners on TOUR were Tim Clark (2010) and Craig Perks (2002).
    • Last debut winner (event) was Perks and before that Hal Sutton (1983). There are 15 debutants in the field as of Tuesday morning.
    • Webb Simpson (2018) is the last to go wire-to-wire (ties included).
    • Simpson is the last champion of six to finish inside the top 50 in defense.
    • Brooks Koepka (2018, Round 4) is the last player to post 63 OFFICIALLY and tie the course record.
    • Last playoff: Fowler defeats Kisner, Garcia 2015; three playoffs this century.
    • Youngest winner: Si Woo Kim, 21 (2017).
    • Oldest winner: Fred Funk, 48 (2005).
    • Average winner since 20007 has needed SEVEN appearances.
    • Only three players have won the week before with Woods being the last in 2001.
    • 2004 winner Adam Scott has hit the top 12 four of the last five seasons.
    • Keegan Bradley has cashed five straight.
    • Chris Kirk hasn't missed in his last four visits and is on fire in Florida.

    Recent Course Rankings (since 2019):

    2021: 72.241; 16th most difficult of 51 payed.
    2020: Event Cancelled.
    2019: 71.513; 23rd most difficult of 49 played.

    Key stat leaders

    Top golfers in each statistic on the 2020-2021 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week; Select players with top 10 finishes since 2017.

    Strokes-Gained: Tee-to-Green
    1Jon Rahm
    2Collin Morikawa
    3Patrick Cantlay
    3Justin Thomas
    6Keegan Bradley
    7Paul Casey
    8Viktor Hovland
    9Will Zalatoris
    10Rory McIlroy
    11Brooks Koepka
    12Corey Conners
    13Sergio Garcia
    14Daniel Berger
    15Hideki Matsuyama
    Bogey Avoidance
    1Jon Rahm
    2Patrick Cantlay
    3Daniel Berger
    4Chris Kirk
    5Abraham Ancer
    6Russell Henley
    7Seamus Power
    8Webb Simpson
    8Cameron Tringale
    11Louis Oosthuizen
    12Hank Lebioda
    13Sungjae Im
    14Justin Thomas
    Par-4 Scoring
    1Patrick Cantlay
    1Seamus Power
    3Abraham Ancer
    3Daniel Berger
    3Emiliano Grillo
    3Chris Kirk
    3Jon Rahm
    3Webb Simpson
    9Doug Ghim
    9Russell Henley
    9Justin Thomas
    PlayerONE Top 10 Finish
    Starts Made
    Pat Perez16
    Dustin Johnson12
    Nick Watney11
    Marc Leishman11
    Charl Schwartzel10
    Louis Oosthuizen10
    Brendan Steele10
    Jason Kokrak8
    Jordan Spieth 7
    PlayerZero Top 10 Finish
    Starts Made
    Brian Gay17
    Bubba Watson13
    Scott Piercy10
    Gary Woodland 9
    Russell Henley8
    Billy Horschel 8
    Patrick Reed7
    Cameron Tringale 7
    Chez Reavie7
    Russell Knox7
    Brooks Koepka5
    PlayerConsecutive Cuts Made
    Justin Thomas14
    Xander Schauffele13
    Hideki Matsuyama13
    Russell Henley13
    Billy Horschel 12
    Marc Leishman12
    Rory McIlroy12
    KH Lee10
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