This week is the PGA Tour’s unofficial fifth major, The Players Championship.
TPC Sawgrass’ Players Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., plays to a par of 72 and tips out at 7,189 yards. Players won’t need to hit drivers on every par 4 and par 5 this week, but the Pete Dye masterpiece will still test every facet of a player’s game. As far as stats go this week, I think all three components of the strokes gained: tee-to-green category, as well as greens in regulation and fairways hit.
The field is also very stout with every top-50 player in the world teeing it up this week.
Here are my top 25 fantasy golf options for The Players:
1. Henrik Stenson: Won the 2009 Players and has only finished outside the top 25 four times in 12 starts while posting three other top-10s. Enter this year’s edition having finished T-6 or better in three straight Tour events. Ranks first in SGATG, driving accuracy and GIR, and is sixth in SGTTG.
2. Justin Thomas: Went T-24, T-3 to begin his Players career before a T-75 last year that included a third-round 79. But he’s on a different level right now, having not finished worse than T-22 in an individual event since last fall’s BMW Championship. Ranks fifth in SGTTG.
3. Jason Day: Admitted he didn’t have his best stuff at Quail Hollow, yet he still won. The 2016 Players champ was also T-6 in 2011. But he’s also missed three cuts in seven starts here. If he improves his iron play this week (169th in SGATG) then he can win again.
4. Rickie Fowler: Who could forget his closing 67 to win here in 2015? However, aside from a T-2 in 2012, Fowler has missed four cuts in eight career starts here and also has finished T-60 or worse twice when he’s made the weekend. Struggled on Sunday at Wells Fargo, where he was T-21. Second before that, at Masters. Statistically, he’s been balance, ranking 26th in SGTTG, 34th in driving accuracy and 10th in GIR.
5. Dustin Johnson: His T-12 showing last year was his best Players finish in nine starts. Has made seven cuts, though. Enters this week having finished T-16 or better in seven of eight events since his win in Kapalua. Ranks first in SGTTG, including first in SGOTT.
6. Patrick Reed: Has missed the weekend twice in four tries at the Players with a best finish of T-22, which he posted last year. But he’s on an absolute tear right now with a Masters win and four other top-10s in his last five starts. Ranks 24th in SGTTG.
7. Rory McIlroy: Since missing his first three Players cuts, McIlroy has four top-12 finishes in five starts. He did tie for 35th last year, though. Enters this week coming off a T-16 finish at Wells Fargo in his first start since T-5 at Masters. Ranks 35th in SGTTG, but 174th in GIR.
8. Jordan Spieth: Has missed three straight cuts at the Players since T-4 in debut, in 2014. But enters this week having posted back-to-back top-3 finishes in stroke-play events. Ranks second in SGTTG, third in GIR and eighth in SGATG.
9. Francesco Molinari: Three of his four top-10s here have come in his last three trips. Has been T-26 or better in five of his last six Tour starts. Ranks seventh in SGTTG.
10. Sergio Garcia: Boasts one of the most impressive record here – 18 starts, one win (2008), two runner-up finishes (2007, ’15) and five other top-15 finishes. But he’s also missed two straight cuts entering this week. Ranks third in SGTTG and SGATG.
11. Justin Rose: In 14 Players appearances, he has just one top-15 finish, a T-4 in 2014. Coming off T-12 finish at Masters and has three top-8s this year. Ranks 40th in SGTTG and T-22 in GIR.
12. Jon Rahm: Shot a Saturday 82 in his Players debut last year to miss the secondary cut. Has gone fourth, win in last two stroke-play starts. Driving it better than everyone except for Dustin Johnson this season, and while he’s T-141 in SGATG, he’s also 31st in GIR.
13. Zach Johnson: Has only missed one cut in 13 Players starts, and that was in 2008. Was T-2 in 2012 and has cracked the top 25 in six other tries. Fifth in his last start, at Texas Open. Ranks 22nd in SGTTG, including T-18 in SGATG.
14. Tommy Fleetwood: Was T-41 in his Players debut last year. Had been T-26 or better in five straight starts before MC at Wells Fargo. Had a bad ballstriking week at Quail Hollow, but is still ninth in SGTTG.
15. Ian Poulter: Last year’s runner-up finish was his second career runner-up at the Players. No other top-20s, though, in 12 other trips to TPC Sawgrass. He won in Houston and has two other top-7s in his last four Tour starts. Ranks T-18 in SGATG and 20th in driving accuracy.
16. Bryson DeChambeau: Makes Players debut on heels of three top-4 finishes in four starts. Ranks 14th in SGTTG, including 17th SGATG.
17. Hideki Matsuyama: In four Players starts, he hasn’t finished worse than T-23. Was T-7 in 2016. But he hasn’t finished better than 19th since return from injury. Still ranks 16th in SGTTG and has been great around the greens this season.
18. Webb Simpson: Has only made four of eight cuts here with a best finish of T-15, in 2013. Has four top-10s this year and has posted five straight top-30 finishes. Ranks 20th in SGATG.
19. Emiliano Grillo: Was 11th here last year with a third-round 67, and has gone T-3, T-16 and T-9 in his last three Tour starts. Ranks 23rd in SGTTG, 12th in GIR and 14th in driving accuracy.
20. Kyle Stanley: Opened in 69-66 last year at TPC Sawgrass en route to a T-4 finish. Coming off T-13 finish at Wells Fargo, his fourth top-25 in five events. Ranks 79th in SGTTG, but he’s second in GIR.
21. Matt Kuchar: Despite his third-round 81 last year, Kuchar has a good record here. He won in 2012 and has five other finishes of T-17 or better in 13 Players starts. Hasn’t finished better than T-23 in his last three Tour starts, though. And he’s ranked 105th in SGTTG.
22. Chesson Hadley: Missed Players cuts in 2014 and ’16, but was T-24 in 2015. Hasn’t finished outside top 20 in four straight Tour starts. Great iron player, ranks fourth in SGATG and 35th in GIR.
23. Adam Hadwin: Shot par or better in five of last eight rounds here, though his best finish is his T-30 last year. Has six straight top-25s on Tour entering this week. Ranks 25th in SGTTG, 24th in GIR and 54th in driving accuracy.
24. Patrick Cantlay: Was T-22 in his Players debut last year. Coming off T-7 finish at RBC Heritage. Ranks 13th in SGTTG.
25. Phil Mickelson: While he missed four straight Players cuts before T-41 last year, Mickelson does have a win (2007) among eight top-25s in 24 career trips to TPC Sawgrass. His T-5 at Quail Hollow marked his sixth top-6 finish of the season. Wild off the tee, but still ranks 29th in SGTTG.