Preview: THE PLAYERS Championship 2021

Panning for gold in the deepest field in golf.

Better have all kinds of shapes and sizes for this week!

Field is 10 more than last year as well! Gaaaaahhhh!

THE PLAYERS Championship

THE PLAYERS Stadium Course

TPC Sawgrass

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

THE PLAYERS Stadium Course 
Yards (per official scorecard):7,189
Par:72 (36-36)
Greens:TifEagle Bermuda; 5,500 square feet.
Stimpmeter:13′.
Rough:Celebration Bermuda, 2.5 inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards88/17  (water in play on 17 holes).
Architects:Pete Dye (1980; 2016).
Course Record (last):63; Hideki Matsuyama (Round 1, 2020); Brooks Koepka (Round 4, 2018), Webb Simpson (Round 2, 2018).
Purse:$15 million; $2.7 million and 600 FedExCup points (winner).

Notes:

  • Field of 154.
  • Top 65 and ties play the weekend.
  • If necessary, 3 hole aggregate playoff (16-17-18); Sudden Death 17, 18, 17 follows until a winner is determined.

2020-2021 Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

EventWinner
Safeway OpenStewart Cink
120th United States OpenBryson DeChambeau
Corales Punta Cana ChampionshipHudson Swafford
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipSergio Garcia
Shriners Hospitals for ChildrenMartin Laird (playoff)
CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEKJason Kokrak*
ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIPPatrick Cantlay
Bermuda ChampionshipBrian Gay
Vivint Houston OpenCarlos Oritz*
84th Masters TournamentDustin Johnson
The RSM ClassicRobert Streb
Mayakoba Golf ClassicViktor Hovland
Sentry TOCHarris English
Sony Open in HawaiiKevin Na
The American ExpressSi Woo Kim
Farmers Insurance OpenPatrick Reed
Waste Management Phoenix OpenBrooks Koepka
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmDaniel Berger
The Genesis InvitationalMax Homa
WGC – Championship at The ConcessionCollin Morikawa
Arnold Palmer InvitationalBryson DeChambeau (2)

Check out HORSES FOR COURSES for more details and angles for this week.

Previous Winners: *Playoff

YearWinner Comment
2020Mother NatureCOVID-19Hideki Matsuyama tied the course record before the event was cancelled.
2019Rory McIlroy-16First March winner since 2006.
2018Webb Simpson-18Final May winner as he shattered the 36-hole record and tied the 54-hole mark.
2017Si Woo Kim-10Youngest winner ever at 21 in only his second appearance.
2016Jason Day-15Won Bay Hill in March then won here by four in wire-to-wire fashion. Opened with 63.
2015Rickie Fowler-12Knocked out Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner in a playoff after THAT incredible (3-3-2-3) finish.

Facts and Figures:

Lowest Rounds – Last Year63: Hideki Matsuyama 65: Harris English 65: Christiaan Bezuidenhout 65: Si Woo Kim  
Defending Champion(s) Event:Never.
Multiple Champion(s) Entered:None.
First Time – TOUR:Tim Clark, 2010. Craig Perks, 2002.
First Time – EventCraig Perks, 2002. Hal Sutton 1983.
Youngest Winner:Si Woo Kim, 21 years 10 months.
Oldest Winner:Fred Funk, 48.
Local Winner:Fred Funk, 2005.
Odd Fact:112 TOUR winners in the field
Odd Fact II:48 of the 50 OWGR (Wolff, Koepka).

Quick Thoughts

March is wider, softer and more playable, which will add more players to the mix in an already impossible field to handicap. Heck the best defending champion finish is T8 and that was Adam Scott 15 or so years ago.

I’m looking at form players because finding it here might be a challenge haha.

New expanded greens and hole locations should now be settled in and ready for play.

Course is in MINT condition.

All 14 clubs and the six inches between the ears come into play this week.

Making birdies and big numbers are both possible.

Weather shouldn’t be an issue.

This is the third consecutive week on TifEagle Bermuda so it’s now or never! Well, until next week. And the week after that.

The 54-Hole Graveyard here has some impressive tombstones

2019: Jon Rahm (T12) led by one, shot 76 missed the top 10.

2017: Final group of Kyle Stanley (T4) and JB Holmes (81) didn’t find the podium.

2015: Final group of Chris Kirk (T12) and Bill Haas (T4) didn’t find the podium.

2014: Jordan Spieth was tied with Martin Kaymer in the final group, shot 74, T4.

2013: Sergio Garcia (T8) shared the lead with David Lingmerth (T2). Garcia went swimming at 17. Some Woods guy kicked open the door to win his second.

2012: Kevin Na led eventual winner Matt Kuchar by a shot. His 76 was good enough for T7.

Chalk – Betting favorites and my opinions on them

Dustin Johnson (+1200): No chance I’m talking you out of this one. Last three are the best three. Knocked the rust off at The Concession. Will be in the conversation for every big event. Tough price vs this field though.

Bryson DeChambeau (+1600): Fresh off a win, only Woods in 2001 has won the week prior and then won at TPC Sawgrass. Not much phases the big lad but water on 17 holes might alter the game plan. His scoring average suggests he’s a VERY quick learner. T37-T20 in his two tries.

Rory McIlroy (+1600): Won’t need to hole every putt this week and that won’t hurt but it hasn’t been the putter holding him back. His “off” weeks are top 10s. Yep, start there.

Jon Rahm (+1600): He posted 64 in Round 3 last time. He posted 82 in Round 3 on his debut in 2017. Full bag helps. Salty taste might too. Three visits, each one has a round of 76 or worse. Careful.

Justin Thomas (+1800): Uneventful T15 with 21 birdies at The Concession is good news. Catch him on the up. Top 10.

Collin Morikawa (+1800): No thanks at this price. If he wins, we’ll be begging for 18-1 down the road! I know I might be in the minority here but Pete doesn’t make it that easy.

Xander Schauffele (+2000): I’m red ass on him after his no-show at The Concession.  Don’t gamble angry. Not a big sample size here, just six rounds but it’s T2 and MC. Haha.

Patrick Cantlay (+2000): T2 at Amex on Pete Dye West. Bit different field this week but he did close 61 there.

Webb Simpson (+2200): On Bermuda, as safe as it gets. T16-WIN-T16 in his last three. Free money top 20.

Viktor Hovland (+2500): He told you after The Concession he doesn’t like golf in Florida. He had you fooled after 36 holes at Bay Hill. His weekend hammered home the details. See you down the road.

Tony Finau (+2800): Thank you ma’am, may I have another? Win ticket. Top 10. Top 20.

Jordan Spieth (+3000): Ride the form. Confidence is back. Rewarded his decision to play API with another top five. Top 10.

Tyrrell Hatton (+3000): Made nothing on last week but hit it well. Hitting it well this week will lead to more makes on the smaller greens.

My Long Shots and Others 33-1 or worse

Hideki Matsuyama (+3300): T23 or better in 5 of 6 appearances. Top 10 and top 20.

Daniel Berger (+4000): Should be as comfortable as can be. Skinny win ticket here plus top 10 and top 20.

Tommy Fleetwood (+4500): Another top 10.

Cameron Smith (+5500): T11-T4 last two starts but never posted a round in the 60s here. Let’s gamble. Top 20.

Corey Conners (+7500): Heat check. Top 20.

Sergio Garcia (+7500): Top 20.

Jason Kokrak (+8000): Final win ticket. Top 10. Top 20.

Max Homa (+9000): I lied, stick a dollar on him to win as well. Gotta have all shapes and sizes this week! Top 20 too.

Top 20 Plays

Chris Kirk

Carlos Ortiz

Keegan Bradley

Emiliano Grillo

Andrew Putnam

Charley Hoffman

Brendan Steele

Martin Laird

Vaughn Taylor

Jason Dufner and Scott Harrington to make the cut.

Last Week’s Recap

Rory McIlroy (+800): See above. Plus he made 26 birdies last week on a track he’s never played before. Catch him on the trend. Another top 10 in Orlando.

Bryson DeChambeau (+1200): Opened 77-64 last week. 2nd here in 2018 to McIlroy. Wild with water doesn’t help but he’s a super putter. Conflicted, again. Conflict resolution. Win.

Viktor Hovland (+1200): Go read Rob Bolton on the Norwegian. First timers don’t do well here either. No value, pass. T49. All four rounds count.

Tyrrell Hatton (+1600): If Matt Every can go back-to-back, why not? Busted the rust off last week at The Concession with T22. Stick him in the top 10 and take your chances. T21 after bookend 77s.

Sungjae Im (+2000): His last top 10 was on massive greens with windy conditions on Kapalua. He’s proven that a quality back, regardless of age, can get the job done here with 3rd and T3 in two appearances. Top 10 again. Nope. T21 as he didn’t find any magic Sunday.

Patrick Reed (+2000): In form and went close last week. Still working on the fade but needs no work on or around the greens. Big targets this week again should help him. So will grinding out pars. Top 5/Top 10. MC.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (+2200): Yep, that’s him knocking. On TOUR. At the event. All of the above. Hits it too straight to get into much trouble and is an excellent putter. Win ticket/Top 5/Top 10. Read HFC for more. T10 saves some blushes.

Paul Casey (+2500): Enters on four straight T12 or better, which includes a win in Dubai. First appearance here since 2017 I find odd. Form is legit though. Top 20 just in case. In case of T10, break glass.

Hideki Matsuyama (+2500): Plays here annually and only has one top 10 to show for his troubles from six tries. Last four T33 or worse. Pass. T21 and left alone.

Jordan Spieth (+2800): We’ve seen the reclamation project fare well when there isn’t much water abound. That changes this week. First time at the event at this price doesn’t entice. Two shots out late, another top 10 (T4) makes it three in his last four on TOUR and anyone riding the wave happy.

Francesco Molinari (+2800): Rocks here and has painted the top 10 in three of his last four on TOUR. Course horse with form? Yes, please. Top 10/Top 20. Swung. Missed. By a mile.

My Long Shots and Others 33-1 or worse

Billy Horschel (+3300): My gut play for the week. He’s put in the time and his game is right there. Win ticket. T2 to MC in five days. Man.

Jason Day (+3300): Part of me believes all the changes are for Augusta, not Bay Hill. Only top 10 here is a win. Pass. T31

Louis Oosthuizen (+3300): Play the trend (T29-T11-T6) for another top 10. The trend I thought we were over was the last minute WD. Nope.

Tommy Fleetwood (+3500): Quick, name his last top 10 in the States! 12 months ago at Honda (3rd). Followed it up with MC here. Nah. Quick, name his last top 10 in the States! T10 with 77 on Sunday here. Sigh.

Jason Kokrak (+4000): Doesn’t mind a tough week or a tough track. Top 10/Top 20. DING. DING. T8 cashes both.

Will Zalatoris (+4000): T15 at Riviera suggests not much bothers him. Top 20 and enjoy. 4th SG: T2G last week. T10 and I will enjoy. Fantastic vein of form.

Sam Burns (+4000): Four straight on TOUR with solo third at Genesis as the highlight. He’s 3 for 3 at Bay Hill but T39 is the best.  Top 20. 77 to open and that was that. L.

Marc Leishman (+4500): Horse for course with a win, second and third here in 11 starts. Proper wind player who has been driving me crazy. I’m in. Again. Top 10/Top 20. Skinny win ticket.  FAT MC. Brutal.

Max Homa (+5000): Seven straight, six in the top 25, a win… T24 on debut last year in tough conditions. Sign me up for another top 20. T10. Guess who’s coming back in column next week!

Rickie Fowler (+7000): Moving in the right direction and quietly doing so. Good combo for him. Spiritual home here as he was tight with AP and the family. Last skinny win ticket but top 20 heavy. My experiment ends. -ends-.

Lanto Griffin (+8000): Three straight T26 or better. Top 20. 73-77 for T21. Brutal.

Branden Grace (+8000): Handled the win last week but can he handle the emotional weight this week? I don’t think so. Better than I thought, T26.

Matthew NeSmith (+10000): You’ll find him in here almost every week. Tee to green and Bermuda. Top 20. MC

Matt Jones (+11000): 10 straight including T8 at Riviera and T4 in Bermuda. Top 10/Top 20. MC

JT Poston (+12500): 2 of last 3 top 25. Doesn’t mind a knock and is a super putter. Top 20. MC

Henrik Norlander (+12500): Tee to green feaster. Of his last five, four have cashed T26 or better including T2 at Big Torrey Pines. Top 20. Only beat Fowler

Richy Werenski (+25000): Should make the cut.  I GUESS T4 IS OK.

Bo Hoag (+30000): Should make the cut. Done did.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter (@mikeglasscott) or email me: mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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