THE PLAYERS Championship Preview 2023

The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Pete Dye’s maseterpiece.

2023 THE PLAYERS Championship

The Stadium Course

TPC Sawgrass

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

Weekly Readers:

Horses for Courses – click here

Betting Stat Pack – click here

Expert Picks – click here

Odds Outlook – click here

Bolton’s Bonanza

I’d tell you to follow him on Twitter but if you’re here you probably ain’t on Twitter! @RobBoltonGolf just in case!

2023 Qualifiers for PLAYERS, majors


The best field with 44 of 50 OWGR and 29 of the top 30 FedExCup points race competing for $25 million and $4.5 million and 600 FedExCup points for the winner.

Oh, and Pete Dye.

Yeah, that’s all it will take! Beat all of that!

Oh, and the weather. Don’t forget about the weather. Wind gonna blow from all four directions again this week.

Wait, the rough, yeah, don’t forget about the rough. It’s approaching almost four inches in places so yeah.

The over seed will make everything lush and green so dreams of fast and firm probably won’t come true.

The best in the world will be relieved to play TPC Sawgrass after a brutal Bay Hill and/or difficult Honda.

Good luck!

Host CourseTPC Sawgrass
Yards (per official scorecard):7,275
Par:72 (36-36).
Greens:TifEagle Bermuda over seeded with Poa Trivialis; 5,500 square feet.
Stimpmeter:13 feet.
Rough:Champion Fine Rye grass (over seeded) at 3.5 inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards/In Play88/17/17
Architect(s):Pete Dye (1980); Pete Dye & Steve Wenzloff (2016).
Purse:$25 million; $4.5 winner plus 600 FedExCup points.
Defending Champion:Cameron Smith (-13; not entered).
Multiple Champion(s) Entered:None.
72 Hole Tournament Record:264; Greg Norman (1994).
Course Record (last):63; Dustin Johnson (not entered; 2022 Round 4).
Oldest Winner:Fred Funk, 48.
Youngest Winner:Si Woo Kim, 21.
Fact of the Week:Last player to win on debut here was Craig Perks in 2002. There are 32 first timers in the field this week.
Fact of the Week II:Last player to win for the first time on TOUR was Tim Clark in 2010.
Fact of the Week III:ZERO defending champions since 1983 move to TPC Sawgrass.


  • Field of 144
  • Cut to Top 65 and ties after two rounds
  • Playoff will be three hole aggregate (16-18) then 17,18,17 sudden death.

The 54 hole curse (solo or tied) here is very real. Only Martin Kaymer (2014), Jason Day and Webb Simpson have avoided the mess since 2007.

2007: Sean O’Hair finished quad-bogey (T11).

2008: Paul Goydos (74) lost in a playoff.

2009: Alex Cejka (79), T9.

2010: Lee Westwood (74), T4.

2011: Graeme McDowell (79), T33.

2012: Kevin Na (76), T7.

2013: Sergio Garcia (76), T8.

2014: Jordan Spieth (74), T4.

2015: Chris Kirk (75), T13.

2016: Jason Day – wire to wire.

2017: JB Holmes (84), T41; Kyle Stanley (75), T4.

2018: Webb Simpson – co-wire to wire.

2019: Jon Rahm (76), T12.

2020: No event.

2021: Lee Westwood (72), T2.

2022: Anirban Lahiri (69), T2.

That’s truly incredible. The finish here can create immense pressure while providing fantastic scoring opportunities. And everything else in between.

That’s why we watch!

Season Winners

2022-2023 Season Winners

Fortinet ChampionshipMax Homa
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipMackenzie Holmes
Shriners Children’s OpenTom Kim
Butterfield Bermuda ChampionshipSeamus Power
Mayakoba ChampionshipRussell Henley
Cadence Bank Houston OpenTony Finau
The RSM ClassicAdam Svensson (first TOUR win)
Sentry Tournament of ChampionsJon Rahm
Sony Open in HawaiiSi Woo Kim
Farmers Insurance OpenMax Homa (2)
AT&T Pebble BeachJustin Rose
WM Phoenix OpenScottie Scheffler
The Genesis InvitationalJon Rahm (3)
The Honda ClassicChris Kirk
Arnold Palmer InvitationalKurt Kitayama (first TOUR win)

Recent Event Winners

Italics – not entered this week

2022Cameron Smith (-13)Posted 66 in a Monday 3rd/4th round finish to win by a shot.
2021Justin Thomas (-14)Closed 64-68 to win by two.
2020No Event – COVID-19Hideki Matsuyama opened with 63 but nobody will remember because the event was cancelled after Round 1.
2019Rory McIlroy (-16)Outdueled Jon Rahm from the final group to win by a shot over PVB resident Jim Furyk.
2018Webb Simpson (-18)Ran roughshod as he closed with 73 and still won by four in the final May event.
2017Si Woo Kim (-10)Won by three to become the youngest winner by almost 2 years at 21 yrs 10 months.
2016Jason Day (-16)Last wire to wire winner (no ties).


Last Week at Arnold Palmer Invitational

MY CHOICE: Tyrrell Hatton – T4

His seventh event at Bay Hill returned his fourth T4 or better including his win in 2020. I’m trying to keep it simple, stupid. Had more than a chance or two to pick up another title but no point getting greedy when losing by two.

Max Homa (2nd) followed by Shane Lowry (T5) followed by Tyrrell Hatton (T4) and Akshay Bhatia (2nd PRO) suggests I’m on a run.

Already Burned
Sungjae Im – Maui
Tom Kim – Sony
Tom Hoge – AMEX
Viktor Hovland – Pebble
Xander Schauffele – WMPO
Max Homa – Riviera
Shane Lowry – Honda
Tyrrell Hatton – API
Akshay Bhatia – PRO

This Week – THE PLAYERS Championship

MY CHOICE: Jason Day

Heat. Course form. Healthy.

This event is impossible to nail on. Too many variables listed above squeeze the choices down. As always, there will be somebody from somewhere/nowhere who makes a run. There’s the 54 hole lead/co-lead black cloud.

Others to consider:

Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Sahith Theegala, Adam Scott, Cameron Young

Just missed: 

Chris Kirk, Brian Harman

Chalk (via BetMGM)

Rory McIlroy (+900): Did everything but win last week at event/venue he loves. Perfect prep for this week where he should be and is the favorite.

Jon Rahm (+1000): Fantastic year had a hiccup last week as he stuck four balls in the water. His focus sharpened with 72 on Sunday. I’m expecting nothing but a bounce back this week on a course where Ball-Striking is king.

Scottie Scheffler (+1000): Third trip to TPC Sawgrass will come without the fanfare this year as he hasn’t won his last two starts. The course is the star this week and that won’t bother Scheffler and will let him go about his business.

Patrick Cantlay (+1600): Big paydays at Riviera and Bay Hill push him up here. Best finishes here are T22 and T23 on his first two visits. MC in his last three. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. 

Justin Thomas (+1800): One of the best iron players and Bermuda players around. No problem winning here or anywhere else. Comfortable pairing with Spieth and Homa won’t hurt.

Max Homa (+1800): Any place. Any time. Any grass. Free as a bird. Elite.

Top 10/Top 20/Top 40

Jason Day – I’ll wait to be bucked off before I get back on at Augusta.  2016 champ.

Jordan Spieth – I like the number (+3300) and the way he hit for the most of last week.

Keegan Bradley – Putting matters but so does flushing it.

Shane Lowry – Last two are his best two so I’m on board. Plays well in Florida where he plays well in Florida.

Keith Mitchell – If I’m on him, run. Run away that is.

Corey Conners – Yep yep yep.

Si Woo Kim – Pete Dye? Bermuda? Ding.

Sahith Theegala – Can’t stop watching

Long Shots

Use ’em wherever you see fit! All players listed are +10000 or worse and are for a reason or two!

Brian Harman +10000

Davis Riley +15000

Denny McCarthy +15000

Justin Suh +15000

Ryan Fox +15000

Adam Svensson +20000

Taylor Moore +20000

Ben Griffin +22500

Byeong Hun An +30000

Doug Ghim +30000

Kevin Kisner +35000

Dylan Frittelli +40000

Last Week – Arnold Palmer Invitational

Lovely from Tyrrell Hatton and Jason Day in difficult conditions!

Chalk (via BetMGM)

Jon Rahm (+650): Right side of the draw, hottest player on the planet, yeah, I get it! Only visit is T17 last year but Scheffler won in just his second attempt. After 65 to open to lead by two, everyone thought the final 54 holes would be academic. Not at Bay Hill.  Amazingly he posted 8 over in the last three rounds aggregate for T39. He’s human!

Scottie Scheffler (+900): Wind player and completely locked in. Splitting hairs but if Matt Every can repeat here, surely the reigning Masters champion can add his name to that list. Bogey on the last knocked him out of a three-way tie for second. Ouch. T4 is another premium finish. Hardly a surprise.

Rory McIlroy (+900): Contrary to popular belief he’s not a big fan of the elements. He’s mentioned it too many times to count. Amazing that he doesn’t have a round here in the 60s on the weekend in his last three visits. To be fair, not many have because of the conditions but our expectations with him are endless. T2 as he fell one shot short of a playoff. He’s the HFC at this event and it’s not close.

Max Homa (+1800): One of the of the west coast contingent who has played here the last three years. T10 in 2021 is the best but all three visits are T24 or better. More importantly he’s played this event twice in the big breeze. Not many weeks a turn a blind eye here. This isn’t one! Four rounds or par or better for T14 adds another top 25. Stud.

Will Zalatoris (+1800): Loves hard courses and big fields. This qualifies easily. Now, hard courses AND hard conditions? Posted 77 and 79 here last year after T10 in a calmer 2021. Nothing worse than 73 but nothing better than 72 for T59.

Collin Morikawa (+2000): Three top sixes in four starts this season. Has a victory in Florida at Concession. MC as the roller coaster of all or nothing rolls on!

Patrick Cantlay (+2000): First start. Gotta be some learning curve, right? Nope! T4.

Xander Schauffele (+2000): T24 in his only visit. Can’t we just tell him it’s East Lake and watch him go? T39 75-76 weekend.

Top 10/Top 20/Top 40

Jason Day – T10 makes it four straight events in the top 10. Bang.

Tyrrell Hatton – T4 as only McIlroy is more comfortable here. Bang.

Keith Mitchell – T24 adds another top 25 to a fantastic run of golf.

Chris Kirk – T39 for his “worst” finish of the 2023 portion.

Keegan Bradley – T10 as his performance on his favorite tracks continues to intersect.

Tommy Fleetwood – I’ll tell you this: I have NO CLUE on Fleetwood. I’m about to swear him off. T61.

Seamus Power – 72nd. All top 20 runs must come to an end.

Aaron Wise – The theory that everyone loved him at Honda and he didn’t pull thru so he will the next week theory did NOT pan out. MC.

Long Shots

Use ’em wherever you see fit! All players listed are +10000 or worse and are for a reason or two!

Adam Hadwin – Streak of 13 straight as he MC by one.

Luke List – 77-77 wooof.

Beau Hossler – 75-75 yikes.

Justin Suh – T24, my boy!

Sam Ryder – 74-74 as his three straight T20 or better dies.


Emiliano Grillo – T39

Ben An – WD hahahahaha (baby born 7 March; fake labor?)

Danny Willett  – T34

Zach Johnson – T68


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