05/05/2015

Golf’s fifth major has arrived. The most-talented field in golf is congregating in Florida for the annual playing of TPC Sawgrass. It’s one of the most stout tests on Tour every year, especially if the winds pick up.

But fifth major is a title to describe the quality of the course, but it’s totally a marketing ploy for the PGA Tour, as they don’t run any of the true majors. They have no governing power over the Masters (a group of behind closed doors, high-ups), US Open (USGA), Open (R&A) or PGA Championship (PGA). This event is their (the PGA Tour’s) baby.

Fifth major is a term used to describe the event in two ways:

  1. The course is iconic
  2. The field is the deepest in golf

Outside of that, it really isn’t a major. And it’s important to understand that heading into the week. A big event, yes. A major championship, no.

This Pete Dye course is probably the epitome of the “Dye-abolical” reputation he’s earned with some of his designs. It is a test of ball-striking and course management, combining both target golf with risk/reward opportunities all with a few blind shots. For players who’ve played here in the past, especially those who’ve played well, there is a significant course knowledge advantage.

This course features 75 acres worth of thick, tangled rough, some 93 different bunkers (an average of 5.16 per hole) and 24 acres of water hazards. From the tips, it yields a course rating of 76+ and showcases classic Florida Bermuda grass throughout.

Blow up hole

Last year, the tournament announced its new playoff format.

As if 72-holes isn’t enough, we’ve got a guaranteed 3 more, the final three holes. In this video below, I walked everyone through the TPC Sawgrass’ final three holes– all world famous designs.

With all of these names for finishing stretches, I made the claim last year, “should these holes be called, “The Buzz Saw”?” We’ve got “The Bear Trap” and “The Snake Pit,” and we should add the “Buzz Saw”? Maybe. Video:

So who do I like this week at the 2015 PLAYERS Championship? Let’s dig into this event.


Full Field

Click here for a link to the entire 2015 PLAYERS field via PGATour.com.


Last 5 Champs

  • 2014: Martin Kaymer (Recap)
  • 2013: Tiger Woods (Recap)
  • 2012: Matt Kuchar (Recap)
  • 2011: K.J. Choi
  • 2010: Tim Clark

This Week’s Picks

Two From the Fairway

Rory McIlroy

rory

He’s impossible not to pick. He’s only the 3rd player in history to win 10 times before the age of 26. He won last week’s Match Play. He’s won all the time. He’s not my pick to win this week, but he probably should be. Everyone knows about Rory.

Here are his last starts at the PLAYERS:

2014: T6 | 70-74-69-66
2013: T8 | 66-72-73-70
2012: CUT

Ignore the CUT and pick him in any and all fantasy leagues this week.


Jim Furyk

furyk

He’s playing well again and a great finish at the Match Play (where he deserved to be in the Finals) and an emphatic win a few weeks ago at the Heritage, I have Furyk as a guy to stick with.

I picked him in last year’s preview and despite a poor (well, poor for Furyk) track record at the course and lack of rounds in the 60s, I selected him and he went for a runner-up finish. He’s not on my list to go over the hump, but he is on my list for a top-10 and a solid finish.

Jimmy boy this week in his home town.

Also: Look at Lee Westwood this week.

Blow up hole


One From the Rough

Kevin Na

Screenshot 2015-03-10 10.09.10

I’ve been on Kevin Na for a few weeks now and his play has held up nicely. I’m going to continue riding this wave until he hits a wall.

He’s had a great year so far, notching 7 top-25s in 14 starts for a 50% clip of top-25s. Lately, he’s been great too!

Here are his last 5 starts: 12th | 20th | 6th | 10th | 9th

Last year, a 3rd round 76 derailed his tournament where he finished T38. In 2013, he battled injuries, but again in 2012, was in contention all week, earning a place in the final group. A yippy, glitchy, 7-hour round concluded in another 76 which dropped him into a T7.

All in all though, Na’s played well here in the past and is playing well right now. He’s not a conventional pick, but hey, he’s a sleeper.


The Man with the Trophy

Hideki Matsuyama

Hideki+Matsuyama+World+Golf+Championships+LCqNtp_0W4Il

I had Matsuyama beating McIlroy in the match play last week, but in the end, Rory proved too tough to knockdown.

Four top-5s in 2015 so far and a T23 in this event last year give me all the confidence I need this week in the Japanese ball-striking aficionado. Statistically, Matsuyama is 11th in GIR, 30th in driving distance, top-50 in driving accuracy, 4th in strokes gained tee-to-green, 3rd in total ball striking and at the end of the day, too good to ignore.

He’s my winner this week, adding a second big win to his career.

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