Expert Picks: THE PLAYERS Championship

May 08, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

The PGA TOUR travels to TPC Sawgrass this week for THE PLAYERS Championship. Here's how the PGATOUR.COM experts sized up the top contenders:

How it works: Our experts from PGATOUR.COM select the player they think will win this week's event. By using a draft process, no two picks can be the same. The player who wins the previous week picks last the following week.
MORE: Power Rankings | Inside the Field | Inside the Course | FANTASY GOLF: Play our game
SLEEPER PICKS: Who will surprise at TPC Sawgrass?
Expert picks: THE PLAYERS Championship
Pick orderPlayer selected
LUKE DONALD. Played well at PLAYERS last year (T4) and comes off T3 in his last start in New Orleans. His accuracy off the tee (13th on TOUR), his wedge play (1st in scrambling) and his putter (4th in SGP) will serve him well at TPC Sawgrass.
HUNTER MAHAN. He's played progressively better every year, finishing T71, T17 and T6 the last three. He may be the best driver of the golf ball in the game and putting it in play is at a premium at TPC Sawgrass. He's also fifth in GIR and 18th in scoring.
If Wacker had the top pick ... Mahan
JUSTIN ROSE. Maybe a little early for Rose, but not by much and especially not after he won the WGC-Cadillac at another renowned Florida venue, TPC Blue Monster. I like his overall game for the Stadium Course. Of course, I also liked Tiger Woods last week. Sigh.
If Schwarb had the top pick ... Rose
LEE WESTWOOD. Love the 68-66 weekend at Quail Hollow to finish T5 in his first start since a T3 at the Masters. For the world's best player without a major championship, winning THE PLAYERS would be a monumental achievement.
If Swantek had the top pick ... Westwood
PHIL MICKELSON. In addition to his win at AT&T, Mickelson has three other top-5s this season. The 2007 PLAYERS champ also hasn't missed the cut here since 2000. Safe pick? No one is a safe pick at TPC Sawgrass.
If Szeker had the top pick ... Mickelson
GRAEME McDOWELL. Hope I'm not kicking myself at week's end for taking someone who makes so much sense. Last year's 54-hole leader has been no worse than T13 in three Florida starts this season. What better way is there to forget about last year's closing 79?
If Dunham had the top pick ... McDowell
RORY McILROY. I'm shocked that he made it to this pick. McIlroy lost in a playoff last week, so he's hot right now. Plus he is the No. 1 player in the world. How can you not pick him?
If Deason had the top pick ... McIlroy
TIGER WOODS. I didn't want to do it, I wanted McDowell. It's unlikely he will win but even more unlikely he will miss the cut (only missed one in 14 starts at TPC Sawgrass). I really like G-Mac on this track.
If Smithson had the top pick ... McDowell
STEVE STRICKER. The veteran has six top-25s here including last year's T12. The winner at Kapalua has had a great year, with three other top 10s. He has the patience and accuracy to notch his 13th career win atthe 30th anniversary of TPC Sawgrass.
If McAllister had the top pick ... McIlroy
ERNIE ELS. Considered Ben Crane, the only "Golf Boy" yet to win in 2012, who has three top-6s in his last four starts here. But Els has momentum, finishing fifth or better in three of his last five starts. He loves Pete Dye courses and lost the Zurich in a playoff at one.
If Ross had the top pick ... Donald
Standings after 19 events
LAST WEEK: A solid week for a panel with three top-5 finishers among the picks. Helen Ross made the biggest splash with Rory McIlroy's P2 finish.
Position Name Wins Top-5s Top-10s Top-25s MCs FedExCup points
1 Lauren Deason
Editorial Coordinator
2 3 6 11 1 1949.24
2 Ryan Smithson
Site Producer
2 6 7 11 2 1873.75
3 Amanda Balionis
Host, PGA TOUR Today
1 6 8 11 4 1764.75
4 Brian Wacker
Site Producer
2 4 5 7 2 1584.76
5 Mike McAllister
Managing Editor
1 3 4 8 2 1292.85
6 Chris Dunham
Editorial Coordinator
1 2 3 8 2 1164.08
7 Helen Ross
Chief of Correspondents
0 3 3 10 2 1139.70
8 John Swantek
Host, On The Tee
0 2 7 8 4 1133.24
9 Anne Szeker
Site Producer
0 2 6 10 0 930.67
10 John Schwarb
Site Producer
0 2 3 9 3 730.65

MAKE YOUR PICK: Tell us who you expect to win this week's event.