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The Players Championship: Expert Picks

Rafa Cabrera Bello has a fantastic two year streak coming at the Players Championship

Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

After a brutal Honda Classic where I saw half my picks miss the cut, I came in strong last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with all golfers making the cut and an average finish of 22nd.

Tournament Information

The Players Championship
Date: Mar 14 -17
Course: TPC Sawgrass
Purse - $11MM ($2MM to winner)
FedEx points – 600 to winner
2018 Winner: Webb Simpson (-18)

Course

TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course. Built in 1980 by Pete and Alice Dye it stands as one of the more difficult course in the United States. Sitting at 7,190 yards, this par 72 course is a ‘jack of all trades’ course forcing players to use the entirety of their swiss army knife to pass it’s illustrious tests. Notorious hole 17 will stand out in infamy to most as the green stands alone surrounded by water. The great joy of this course is watching the players lean after their shot on 17 trying to use their mental capacity to direct the ball mid flight.

PGA: THE PLAYERS Championship - Third Round Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

My Starting 4

Francesco Molinari (2nd selection this year) — Fresh off a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational he comes to TPC Sawgrass where he had a very strong 2016 and 2017 finishing 6th and 7th before missing the cut last year on a mediocre 73 on both Thursday AND Friday. He still has yet to miss a cut this season and holds the 19th best strokes gained putting as well as the 39th best strokes gained total.

Matt Kuchar (1st selection this year) — Did you know that Matt Kuchar sits in 2nd in FedEx Rankings currently? If not, don’t b surprised, he has won two tournaments but they were early on and he has quietly worked his way up the ranks with six top 25 finishes across nine starts this year. He finished 3rd here in 2016 and 17th here last year. He is 19th in strokes gained approaching the green.

Rafa Cabrera Bello (1st selection this year) — Potentially the best player NOT named Webb Simpson at the Players Championship over the last two years, Rafa has a 4th place and 17th place finish across 2017 and 2018. Currently 9th in total strokes gained, he has yet to miss a cut and has top 25 finishes in six of his seven tournaments this year.

Ian Poulter (1st selection this year) — Currently in 10th strokes gained around the green and 29th in total strokes gained, Ian has top 25 finishes in six of seven tournaments this season. He has top 30 finishes in three of the last four years at the Players Championship.

My Bench 2

Hideki Matsuyama (1st selection this year) — He has made all nine tournaments this year finishing in the top 25 in five of them. He’s 2nd in strokes gained approaching the green, 15th in total strokes gained. He was in the top 25 at the Players Championship in 2015, 2016 and 2017 before missing the cut last year with a brutal 79 on Thursday where he hit 12 of 18 greens.

Adam Scott (1st selection this year) — He is the only golfer who has finished in the top 15 each of the last three years at the Players Championship. In an up and down season he has two missed cuts and one 61st place to go with four finishes in the top 20.

Other golfers with a strong record here: Brooks Koepka, Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson and Chris Kirk.


2019 Stats

Starting 4: Avg Finish 39th place (32nd percentile)
Bench 2: Avg Finish 59th place (47th percentile)

Fun Factoid: North Americans make up 67% of the field and yet they have won 40% of the last ten Players Championships. You will notice I leaned more towards foreigners with my selections.