The PGA Tour is staying in Florida again this week and heading to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, for The Players Championship. The tournament is often coined “the fifth major” by many golf fans and players. The tournament boasts the largest purse on tour, with 25 million dollars at stake.
TPC Sawgrass is a par 72, and the course measures 7245 yards. The course is about average in length compared to other courses that the PGA visits. All the major players from the PGA tour will be in the field this week, with this being an elevated event. In the last three years, the winners have been Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, and Rory McIlroy.
Past Winners of The Players
I think it is important to focus on the results of the past three years because the PGA shifted the schedule to where The Players is now held in March instead of May. Such a move plays a factor in how players perform in the tournament.
Cameron Smith has since left the PGA tour for LIV golf, but he lives in the area, and it certainly feels awfully awkward not to have him in the field this week as he is the defending champion.
However, the last three winners have had something in common: they all performed well at the Sentry Champions tournament. Last year’s winner, Cameron Smith, finished 1st (won the event), Justin Thomas finished 3rd the year he won, and McIIlroy finished T4 the same year he won The Players.
Players that excelled at the Sentry tournament clearly have somewhat of an advantage over other players in the field.
TPC Sawgrass ranks as the 5th toughest course for shots gained approach from 150 yards and in. The greens are fairly sized, but the tight fairways and nasty rough are what make the course extremely challenging.
The course ranks as the 9th toughest for fairways in regulation, and the average distance off the tee is 280 yards. Distance won’t be an issue for most players this weekend. The fairway width at TPC Sawgrass ranks 23rd on tour. The course also awards the 7th most stroke penalties on tour.
The weather should hold up for most of the weekend in Ponte Vedra Beach, with temperatures expected in the 70s and a chance of storms on Friday. The wind should be somewhat present this weekend, with gusts up to 12 mph. If anything, it will help dry the course out, making every element more difficult for players. It’s a tight golf course that demands players control their golf ball from tee to green.
Tom Hoge is +9000 to win The Players Tournament this weekend. Hoge ranks 1st on tour in approaches from 50-125 yards, 2nd in shots gained on approach to the green, and 2nd in fairway proximity. It really feels like Hoge’s game is made for a course like TPC Sawgrass. I expect Hoge to be in the mix down the final stretch of the weekend.
Following previous year’s trends, Hoge finished T3 at the Sentry Tournament of champions earlier this year.