2022 The Players Championship Preview and Picksby Mike Quintero March 9, 2022 0 comments
Golf loyalists will be glued to their screens this weekend as The Players Championship is set to kick off. Ponte Vedra Beach, FL is the focal point of this week’s action. As host, TPC Sawgrass offers players one of the most scenic courses on tour. A stacked lineup this week features 47 of the top 50 golfers in the world chasing a win. Defending champion Justin Thomas will look to win in back-to-back years against a loaded field. Given the recent struggles Jon Rahm is going through, the OWGR No. 1 spot appears to be up for grabs. Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay, and Scottie Scheffler all have the chance to take the crown this weekend.
Check out more of PTST’s golf picks here.
Favorite: Patrick Cantlay
Cantlay is currently at the top of his game. The 2021 PGA Tour Player of The Year has made every cut this season and looks to maintain momentum. Finishing as runner-up at the Waste Management Open, and fourth at Pebble, Cantlay is searching for his first win of 2022. Residing in the No. 4 spot on OWGR, the 29-year-old is looking to improve on that mark. As the 2021 FedEx Cup Champion, Cantlay presents a threat to anyone in the field. Navigating this circuit can be tricky at times, but all faucets of his game seem to be in order. Expect another solid week from the most stoic of ball strikers.
Favorite: Viktor Hovland
Entering The Players, Hovland is hungry for another tour victory. After finishing tied for fourth and tied for second at the Genesis and Arnold Palmer Invitational, respectively, the Norwegian native is looking to grab his third win of the season. With irons to match any player on tour, Hovland should give fits to his competition. The young gun has shot up the OWGR in the last year and looks to maintain form. Sawgrass provides a course suited for good ball strikers and Hovland fits the bill. Be on the lookout for the Oklahoma State product to put on a show this week.
Sleeper: Will Zalatoris
Last year, Zalatoris made his Players Championship debut, finishing the week in 21st. Following his play at Sawgrass, he went on to surprise everyone at The Masters and finish second, nearly stealing a green jacket from Hideki Matsuyama. In a huge rookie year, Zalatoris proved he can play with the big dogs. Following a playoff loss to Luke List at the Farmers Insurance Open in January, the Dallas native is looking to secure his first win on tour. His putter has been in question since his tour career began after losing to List in a tournament that was his to take, Zalatoris is tweaking his game. Look for the 25-year-old to make some adjustments on the greens this week.
Favorite: Collin Morikawa
Making just his second appearance at the Players Championship this week, Morikawa had a disastrous showing a year ago. The 25-year-old carded a second-round 73, followed by a third-round 76 to finish 41st. Off to a strong start to begin his 2022 season, the current world number two has been hot since returning from the DP World Tour in Dubai. He has finished inside the top ten in each of his four events, including a runner-up finish at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. He possesses the accuracy off the tee and the iron game to navigate the tough conditions at TPC Sawgrass. The Los Angeles native is 15th on tour in driving accuracy and first in strokes gained from tee to green.
Favorite: Talor Gooch
Playing some of the best golf of his pro career of late, Gooch finished seventh at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a week ago. The 30-year-old has now made the cut in 11 of his 13 events while finishing inside the top 10 four times to kick off the 2022 season. He is up to 32nd in the official world golf rankings. Look for him to have another good week at the stadium course this weekend. One of the best ball strikers in the field, the Midwest City native is nailing 71.66 percent of his greens in regulation. He is hitting more than 61 percent of his fairways in regulation while also gaining 1.17 strokes from tee to green. Currently listed a +5000 to capture the tournament, he offers tremendous value.
Sleeper: Corey Conners
After missing the cut in three of his previous four events, Conners bounced back at Bay Hill. The 30-year-old rebounded after shooting 72 and 73 to open up the tournament. He carded a third-round 69 to put himself in the mix on Sunday. Ultimately hurt by a few bad swings during the final day, the Listowel Ontario native still finished in 11th place. Successful at the Players Championship in the past, he finished in seventh place a year ago after a 66 on Sunday. The Kent State product has the iron play to put himself in contention heading into the weekend. The key for him will be with his putter. Struggling on the greens through the early parts of the season, he is 106th on tour in strokes gained with the flat stick.
Favorite: Scottie Scheffler
This is the most obvious one, but the best choice. Scheffler is the best golfer in the world right no. With recent wins at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Scheffler has a real shot to win it at Sawgrass. A win here would mark the third of his career, and this season, setting Scheffler apart in the FedEx Cup rankings.
Favorite: Jon Rahm
Rahm has yet to get a win this season, though he ranks second in the Fedex Cup standings. He leads the field in strokes gained on approach with +25.1. We’ve seen time and time again approach being the most important statistic at Sawgrass. Rahm also hits the highest amounts of greens in regulation, so if he gets that putter going he may run away with this one.
Sleeper: Martin Laird
It’s hard to go against metrics here and Laird has one very good one that makes him an exciting sleeper. Laird’s +34.3 good drives gained over his last 24 rounds ranks first in the field. This is +4.1 over Russel Knox’s good drives gained, and +10.5 over Chez Reavie who ranks third in this category. This is a great statistic for TPC Sawgrass as you need accurate tee shots to win at this tournament.
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