This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
THE PLAYERS Championship
Course: TPC Sawgrass (7,189 yards, par 72)
Winner: $2,700,000 and 600 FedExCup points
The PGA Tour's flagship event will once again take place at famed TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. This will be the second year since THE PLAYERS Championship was moved back to March. If there's anything the last two weeks in Florida have shown us it's that TPC Sawgrass should play very difficult. The closing three holes here are as intimidating as any finish on Tour. This includes the infamous island green on the par-3 17th hole, which has seen plenty of bids to win wrecked in one shot. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy enters as the defending champion and off seven straight top-five finishes worldwide. This is the best field in golf, but it will be without the biggest name, as Tiger Woods remains sidelined with back issues. THE PLAYERS Championship is also now the largest purse in golf at $15,000,000. The winner will receive $2,700,000 and 600 FedExCup points – not to mention a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour and a three-year ticket into all of the majors. The forecast this week looks excellent with temperatures expected to be in the mid-to-high 70's and little threat of rain throughout the event.
Key Stats to Victory
The beauty of TPC Sawgrass is that is tests how skilled at golf you are for 72 holes and not how far you can hit it. If you look through the list of champions, anyone in the field can win it. In Webb Simpson's runaway win two years ago, he was dead last in driving distance, but led the field in fairways hit and SG: Putting, and was also T5 in GIR's. Rory led the field in SG: Tee-to-green last year and in 2017 Si Woo Kim had one of the greatest scrambling displays we have ever seen in his victory. The two toughest tests of the year so far have been the opening two legs of the Florida Swing. It has been dry and the winds have been up, something we should see again this week in Ponte Vedra Beach. The winning score has been double figures under-par every year here since Sergio Garcia's win in 2008, but this week I don't see anyone going super low. Approach play will remain the most important aspect to success here, but scrambling/putting will be a close second. Driving will be more about keeping it in play versus distance.
FanDuel Value Picks
Patrick Cantlay, ($11,400)
Cantlay is rested after a nearly a month off and comes in having posted five top-20s in his last six starts. He has been one of the most complete players on Tour the last two seasons and is currently eighth in SG: Total and third in birdie average. Cantlay's iron play excites me the most, however, as he ranks sixth in SG: Approach and second in GIR percentage. The UCLA product owns a pair of top-25s in three career starts at TPC Sawgrass.
Bryson DeChambeau, ($11,300)
DeChambeau won five times in a 17-tournament stretch in the latter part of 2018 into early 2019. His game fell apart after that a bit, but he appears to be back to form in his revamped body. He went T5-2nd-4th over his last three starts against some very impressive fields. DeChambeau ranks fourth this season in SG: Total and fifth in scoring average. He now leads the Tour in driving distance, but still ranks 22nd in SG: Putting and 10th in SG: Tee-to-green.
Webb Simpson, ($10,700)
If I had to rank all the players in the field for this course, Simpson would easily be top-five. This week you can get him for just $10,700, which is a steal for how reliable he has become. Throw out a T61 in Mexico last time out and Simpson has 17 straight finishes inside the top 30. He also has three top-3 finishes and five top-10s in his last six starts. Simpson hasn't finished worse than a T16 in any of his last three starts at TPC Sawgrass. He sits first in birdie average and second in scoring average on Tour this season if you needed any other reason to put the 34-year-old in your lineups this week.
Sungjae Im, ($10,400)
Im took over the lead in the FedExCup Standings after a solo third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this past week after his first career win at The Honda Classic the week prior. Clearly Im has taken well to Florida courses in firm and breezy conditions, so there's no reason for him not to have another great week at TPC Sawgrass. It has been some time since we've seen a 21-year-old with this few of holes in his game. He is currently top-12 on Tour in SG: Total, birdie average, and scoring average.
Longer Shots with Value
Marc Leishman, ($9,700)
This price is criminal. Leishman is coming off a runner-up last week at Bay Hill, where he excelled in firm and fast conditions yet again. The Aussie should face similar challenges again this week at TPC Sawgrass. Leishman ranks fifth in SG: Approach and 15th in SG: Tee-to-green this season. His short game is also extremely strong at the moment, as last week he ranked first in scrambling and fourth in SG: Putting. Leishman has three career top-25s at TPC Sawgrass.
Daniel Berger, ($9,200)
Another guy that has everything working right now, Berger is coming into the week off three straight top-10 finishes. He currently ranks 26th in SG: Putting and 29th in SG: Tee-to-green. The Florida State product is also 20th in birdie average and 12th in scoring average this season. Berger owns a top-10 finish at TPC Sawgrass back in 2016 and has only missed one cut in five starts.
Tyrrell Hatton, ($9,000)
Yes, you can really get the guy that has two wins and seven top-20s in his last eight starts for just $9,000 this week. Hatton has a small sample size this season on the PGA Tour, but he currently ranks ninth in GIR percentage, fourth in birdie average, and third in scoring average. Despite some of his usual antics, Hatton held incredibly steady down the stretch last week at Bay Hil in very tough conditions. He's got everything clicking right now heading into TPC Sawgrass, which should present similar challenges.
Scottie Scheffler, ($8,700)
Everyone loves to talk about Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa, and Viktor Hovland, but lost in the shuffle is the Texas product who might just be having the best season of the four top Rookie of the Year candidates. Scheffler has made 11-of-13 cuts this season with four top-10s and 10 top-30s. He is 19th in the FedExCup race after a T15 showing last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Scheffler currently ranks 20th in SG: Tee-to-green, fifth in birdie average, and 15th in scoring average.
Strategy Tips for this week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
The middle tiers are absolutely loaded this week in the strongest field of the year. Take advantage of that value from $8,500-$10,500, while maybe fading some of the higher-end options in favor of players with likely lower ownership rates this week. Continue to avoid Brooks Koepka ($11,700) and Justin Rose ($11,100), as both have ridiculously high price tags in this field and have not shown any semblance of form in some time. Other players worth considering not mentioned with strong course history include Adam Scott (T12 or better last four editions), Sergio Garcia (All-time money leader), Matt Kuchar (Seven top-20's in last 13 starts), and Hideki Matsuyama (Top-25 in five of his six career starts).