You think hitting the 17th green at TPC Sawgrass late in the final round is tough? Try predicting who will win the Players. Golf's fifth-biggest tournament is arguably the most difficult to prognosticate. Just look at the spotty track records of recent winners. Tiger Woods went 12 years in between his two wins here in which his best other finish was a solo eighth. Rickie Fowler has a win and a runner-up, but nothing better than a T-60 in six other starts. And Si Woo Kim. . . wait, Si Woo Kim won the Players?!
Kidding, Si Woo. You're legit. But seriously, this tournament is as unpredictable as bingo night at a senior home. With
that being said our excuses lined up, here's who we're going with in this week's fab foursome of fantasy picks:
Justin Thomas: In just 11 career rounds at TPC Sawgrass, Thomas has already posted two 65s, including one in the final round in 2016 that led to a T-3. More importantly, he's played better than anyone over the past two seasons. After missing out on a chance to take the top spot in the Official World Ranking from Dustin Johnson last week, we're thinking he gets it done (a missed cut might even do the trick depending on what DJ does) this time. According to Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, Thomas is listed at 16-to-1 odds, just behind tri-favorites Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day.
Henrik Stenson: Of all the "favorites," I think Stenson provides the best value at 25-to-1 odds. A past champ (2009), Stenson currently leads the PGA Tour in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation. Archaic stats, perhaps, but it illustrates the type of plodding necessary to tame Pete Dye's famed track.
Bryson DeChambeau: Players making their debut at the Players don't do well, but Bryson isn't your typical player. And he's also got fairly long odds (50/1) for someone who has three top-four finishes in his past four starts. Don't look now, but the man with a French last name could be heading to Paris this fall as part of Team USA. His recent hot stretch has him up to No. 12 in the Ryder Cup standings. Then there's his Monday-Tuesday practice round playing partner this week. . .
Tiger Woods: Yeah, that's right. Tiger Woods. And before you laugh, consider the only other two times I picked him this year (Valspar and Bay Hill), he had a chance to win on Sunday. As we learned on a recent Golf Digest Podcast, Tiger has a new outlook on TPC Sawgrass after getting a pep talk from caddie Joe LaCava ahead of the 2013 season. He won that year and this is just his second time back since. Yes, Woods struggled on the greens at the Wells Fargo Championship, but I'm banking more on the solid ball-striking he showed there. And at 30/1? Hopefully, I'm doing some actual banking by Sunday evening.
Good luck to everyone this week and please listen to this week's podcast in which we talk more about the Players Championship and have a fun chat with Willy Wilcox about his famous hole-in-one and brushes with Tiger and Drake.