By: Evan Singleton
Finally, The Players Championship is here. The Masters is great, but for some reason The Players puts the entire golf summer season into full swing. This is one of the most notable tournaments, played on one of the most notable and historic courses. That is what I love about both The Masters and The Players. I am a huge fan of tournaments that are on the same course year in and year out. That being said, I have a few picks and predictions to get to.
Let us start with the most recent winner, Jason Day. If you are a betting man or woman, DO NOT place a bet on Jason Day. Day has had some tremendous struggles lately with his play. He has also been going through some incredibly difficult personal matters recently. Aside from Day’s play not being up to par (no pun intended) there is another reason leading me to believe he won’t have the best outing. A source has told me that Day has played Sawgrass twice this season (practice rounds). One being earlier on and one being the standard for this week. He has played terribly both times (apparently). Take that for what it is worth. Personally, I just do not see Day being able to repeat.
Next, Rickie Fowler. Fowler has been tremendous this season. He has 4 top 10 finishes, as well as a 11th and 12th. Rickie is playing at a level we’ve never seen. Two years ago at this time he won The Players. This was more due to the fact that he went on an eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie tear. It was not necessarily due to his great play. This year could result in a simple outcome (Fowler winning). However, it’ll most likely be a product of Rickie’s consistency, not an incredible run. I love Rickie this week. I think he can win it, but I would say he’s a top 10 lock.
Rory McIlroy is a great pick this week. He really is. In the last 4 years, Rory has finished in the top 10 three times, and in the top 12 once. So, even with the coming back from injury, equipment change, and marriage, Rory is still a great pick this week. At the end of the day, he is a phenomenal golfer. With the course changes this year, I am thinking a guy that hits it high is going to win. Who hits it higher than Rory?
I have to get to DJ. He has been playing so well lately, so the expectations are so high. I do not think he will level with those expectations. That being said, I could see him with a top 10 finish, for sure. That is below what anyone would expect. Dustin loves to drive the ball, right? Well, given the course changes, I can see many players hitting irons off of the tee. That works against Dustin in my opinion. He is on fire, that is for sure, and I assume he will play well…just not up to expectations.
So I mentioned that players may in fact choose to skip teeing off with a driver. Who does that IMMEDIATELY make you think of? Yes, Henrik Stenson. Pump the breaks. Another change to this courses includes the greens. It is going to play very fast. I do not trust Stenson’s flat stick just yet. So yes he may have an advantage off of the tee, but this is going to play as a second shot and putting course. Mark my words.
You have to consider Spieth this week. He has had a great year, but came down and crashed at The Masters…again. So I think he will take that setback and internalize it. Spieth is due for this tourney. I really like him this week. If this course plays like I predict, Spieth is a fine pick this week. I would not be surprised if he were to take it home.
Next I will clump Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas together. They will not play well. They started strong, had some sparks here and there, but just have not been consistent. Hideki and Thomas will not rise to the occasion at The Players.
So there you have it. I went over a few possible studs and a few duds. If you would like to know more, you can go ahead and contact me on Twitter @EvGuyBoston