Daily Fantasy Course Primer: THE PLAYERS Championship
The world's best golfers trek to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida this week for THE PLAYERS Championship. TPC Sawgrass is the host, as has been the case every year since 1982. For the first time since 2006, however, the event will be held in March instead of May. Formerly squeezed between the Masters and the U.S. Open, the PLAYERS was moved to March to accommodate the PGA Championship's move to May. With most of the world's top golfers already in Florida for the last few events, this schedule change makes sense, and it gives golf fans and DFS players a look at an incredible field and, more importantly, bigger and better contests on daily fantasy sites.
The move to March is significant in terms of course preparation. The greater Jacksonville area is not immune to cold spells, and while the recent weather has been fine, the course has been prepared to withstand winter and the dormant bermudagrass has been overseeded as usual. In the May slot, most of the bermuda would be back by the time the PLAYERS came around. This year, the overseeded conditions will still be in play, and course officials expect the rough to play a bit thicker and the greens to be a tad faster.
Additionally, ball flights in cooler temperatures are generally suppressed, so the ball might not fly quite like it does in May. Golfers starting their rounds in the dew-dropped morning hours may have a little less lift on their shots compared to the afternoon waves.
Architect Pete Dye has littered the course with trees, bunkers, and water hazards, as well has his trademark doglegs. Accuracy is key here, and with driver out of the equation on most of the holes, this is one of the few tracks on Tour that is still largely bomb-and-gouge proof. The 7,189-yard par 72 requires patience, fortitude, and a little luck. Some mistakes could leave a decent lie and hope for a birdie, while others will take par completely out of the equation and turn the hole into a fight for survival.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: TPC Sawgrass
Tees/Fairways/Rough: Celebration Bermudagrass overseeded with perennial ryegrass and fescue
Greens: TifEagle Bermudagrass overseeded with poa trivialis and velvet bentgrass
|Season||Par||Yardage||Average Score||Avg O/U Par||Rank|
Sawgrass is generally viewed as a tough test, and the scores relative to par undersell the fact that this is one of the strongest fields of the season. Course management and navigating trouble spots will be key this week. The course plays much more difficult if the wind picks up, specifically on these already fast greens that become even trickier if golfers have to contend with gusts as well.
No one is immune here. Golfers with top-5 finishes almost all have missed cuts in their history as well. Each winner over the past five years has missed a cut in that span, either before or after their win. The schedule change throws another wrench in course history -- even golfers who have played well here historically might arrive to face an obstacle not previously encountered.
The iconic island green on 17 gets all the attention for balls dropping in the water, but the 432-yard par 4 18th is actually the real bear. The closing hole has averaged 0.32 strokes over par over the last three years, the second-highest of any 18th hole on Tour. No lead is safe down the wire at TPC Sawgrass; over the last three years 17 and 18 have produced 184 double bogeys, by far the most of any two-hole stretch in that span.
These stats have proven vital to success at the PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
|Key Stats for the PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass|
|Strokes Gained: Tee to Green|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Strokes Gained: Par 5s|
|Strokes Gained: Par 4s (450-500 yards)|
The target this week should be overall quality. Putting is always difficult to account for given how variant it can be from week to week, but everything else needs to factor in. Ballstrikers are the premium, but if they are going to miss the green they had better be able to scramble. Strokes gained: tee to green weights all three facets (off the tee, approach, and around the green), but giving added weight to approach makes sense given that top 10 finishers gain more strokes on approach (1.04) than off the tee and around the green combined (0.41 and 0.43, respectively), according to statistics available on Fantasy National Golf Club.
Scramblers have found their way to the top of the leaderboard recently, with 2017 winner Si Woo Kim and 2016 winner Jason Day leading the field in scrambling en route to victory. Adam Scott led last year's field and finished T11, while eventual winner Webb Simpson was 24th on the week but 1st in strokes gained: around the green.
Simpson also led the field in scoring average on both par 4s and par 5s. Each of the par 5s has a birdie rate of 32% or higher, so gaining on the field likely means carding at least two round numbers per round on par 5s. 5 of the 10 par 4s fall between 450-500 yards, including that devilish 18th.
Course History Studs
As mentioned above, be wary of relying on course history this week. That being said, Adam Scott has seven straight made cuts and finished T15 or better in five of those tries.
Francesco Molinari would have been the poster boy for this section last year with top-10 finishes in three straight appearances, but he promptly missed the cut last year. Those consistently high finishes still catch the eye though.
Sergio Garcia has played this event every year since 2000 and has missed the cut just twice. In addition to his win in 2008, he has seven top 15 finishes, including two second place finishes in 2007 and 2015.
Matt Kuchar and Tiger Woods have wins here over their long careers, and both have continued to show well here as their games age. Tiger was T11 last year, and Kuchar has three finishes of T17 or better in the last five years.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.