The Players Championship features the most dramatic finish in golf paired with arguably the strongest field of the year. And it's as close as we come to one of golf’s Big Four. This week the Tour will descend on its home turf in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for what the players call “Our Championship”.
Rory McIlroy returns to the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass a year after holding off Jim Furyk by one stroke to win The Players. The world No. 1 comes into the week as the hottest and most consistent golfer on the planet. Following a T-5 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy has reeled off seven consecutive top-five finishes.
Nineteen of the top 20 players in the official world golf rankings will tee it up at TPC Sawgrass, with Tiger Woods being the lone player inside the top 20 sitting this out with a stiff back.
Former champions Webb Simpson, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler will be in the field, as will 2007 champ Phil Mickelson. Lefty’s up and down 2020 season continued with a missed cut at the API last week as he’ll now try to find his game at the Pete Dye designed Stadium course, where he’s missed the cut in six of his last seven starts.
Dry and breezy conditions should once again pose a stiff test as the game’s best step into the gauntlet of the 17 hole’s island green.
Here’s who to keep an eye on this week at TPC Sawgrass.
Nuts and Bolts
TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)
7,189 yards, Par 72
Rory McIlroy 7/1
Until further notice, you simply cannot pick against the world No. 1. He's had seven consecutive top-five finishes, and top 10s in 10 of his last 11 starts worldwide. Rory traditionally plays well in bunches, but this stretch really dates back to July. Including his win at TPC Sawgrass in 2019, McIlroy had four top-10 finishes at The Players. He enters the week leading the Tour in scoring average and ranks inside the top six in four different Strokes Gained categories this season.
More than any player in the field, Rahm enters the week with some unfinished business. After rounds of 69-68-64 the world No. 2 was the 54-hole leader a year ago at The Players before a final-round 76 imploded his chances of winning. Rahm’s fire was on full display that Sunday in Ponte Vedra Beach, and the Spaniard has since said he’s been working on harnessing his emotions. Following that dreadful day last March, Rahm has compiled 16 top-10 finishes including three wins worldwide. Prior to a week off, Rahm finished T-3 at the WGC Mexico Championship and currently ranks third on Tour in SG: Total.
Webb Simpson 33/1
The most underrated top-10 player in the world, Simpson returns to TPC Sawgrass where he’s had a strong three year run of success. Webb was the 2018 Players champion, sandwiching the win in between two T-16 finishes.
Simpson has the steady game required to weather the body blows the Stadium course dishes out. He also heads into the week playing some fantastic golf. Aside from a poor showing in Mexico, Simpson had run off five consecutive top-10 results including a win at the Waste Management Open.
Adam Scott 35/1
Some courses simply suit the eye of a golfer. For Adam Scott, TPC Sawgrass is that golf course.
It feels like ages ago that Scott won The Players Championship back in 2004, but the Australian has also experienced a steady stream of recent success. Scott has run off four consecutive top-12 finishes in the event and has a streak of 13 consecutive rounds of par or better at the Stadium course. Despite a missed cut at the API, Scott enters the week in fine form, having won the Genesis Invitational less than a month ago.
Keegan Bradley 175/1
It appears Bradley has righted the ship after a couple of missed cuts at the Genesis and Honda. His T-42 at the API was nothing special, but was void of a complete blowout, which we saw from many players in the dry, windy conditions. Bradley returns to The Players where he’s had success of late. He was the 18-hole leader after an opening-round 65 a year ago before finishing T-16 and T-7 in 2018. Bradley has reeled off sub-70 scores in five of his last eight rounds at the Stadium course and currently ranks 38 in SG: Tee to Green this season.