It’s a big week for the PGA Tour. Some might even go so far as to call it a “major week” on the PGA Tour, but we don’t want any part of that argument.
Whatever you want to call it, the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass is undoubtedly one of those events that players and fans most look forward to each season.
Even more compelling this year? It marks the first time since 2007 that the tournament isn’t played in the month of May, which makes it a far different course than what players and caddies are used to, conditions-wise (longer and softer than May).
It’s also going to mean that you’ll want to have the popcorn ready late Sunday afternoon as the contenders come down the brutal closing stretch – holes 16, 17 (the island green) and 18.
So, who will come out on top? That’s what we asked our caddies on the ground in Ponte Vedra Beach.
To protect their identity, our caddies made their respective picks anonymously. Here’s a look at who they think you should be paying attention to this week…
- Keegan Bradley. “The ‘Bahsten’ transplant to Florida got a win last fall after a dry spell and has been playing really well as of late. Yeah, he stumbled a bit with a chance to win last week, but you can easily spin that positive. On a course that rewards solid ball striking, Keegan jumps off the page given he’ s probably feeling good with the putter, too. Throw in the fact that his caddie is born and raised in Jax and has loads of experience around Sawgrass just like last year’s winning caddie, Paul Tesori, and it’s easy to pick the twitchy New Englander.”
- Tommy Fleetwood. “Coming off a top 5 last week, Tommy also pops as a tremendous ball striker and one of the current best players in the world. Word on the street is he started using the Stracka green reading books last week for the first time and filled up the cup. The conditions are softer than usual this week and the greens slower, so it’s ripe for a ball-striking European that is riding a hot putter.”
- Lucas Glover. “Another player who hits it good and is also riding a hot putter, Glover has played well at Sawgrass before and will feel comfortable on the overseeded Bermuda. Lucas would like to write a better headline at this year’s Players and his bagman is one of the best in the biz. They’ll be in the mix.”
- Ryan Palmer. “Good week last time he played at the Honda – a T4 with a blistering 63 in the final round on a difficult course. He’s always had success in Florida and is enjoying a good season. I’d expect that to continue.”
- Gary Woodland. “Great driver and ball striker who’s figured out his putting. The course will play longer being in March vs. May and that plays into his biggest strength.”
- Rory McIlroy. “He’s taking some heat for not being able to finish events which is a complete joke. It’s hard to win, period. Just to be in that position most weeks shows how good he really is. He’s another guy who hits is so good. If he makes a few putts, look out.”
- Rory McIlroy. “TPC Sawgrass is an iron players course — no ifs, buts or maybes. There’s no faking it with your approach shots this week. They have to be spot on, and with pins that can be hard to get to, hitting it high with impeccable distance control is a huge asset. This is Rory’s forte. He’s been thereabout for a while now, and on a big stage you know he thrives.”
- Lucas Glover. “Lucas has had four top 10s in nine starts this season, mostly on tough courses. He’s been knocking on the door all season long, pretty much unnoticed by everyone, except caddies, players and a few avid golf fans. Tremendous iron player who hits it pin high a ton. He’s been making putts too, often his Achilles heel. Making putts and hitting a ton of greens is a great combo for Sawgrass. Look out for LG.”
- Adam Scott. “Adam looks as comfortable as he has in a while. TPC Sawgrass is a second-shot golf course, no matter what time of year The Players is played. He’s finding similar form with his iron play that took him to No. 1 in the world a few years back. His length off the tee means he can attack the par 5s and not have to force too many mid to long irons into the sometimes lengthy fifth, seventh, 14th and 18th – tough holes that need to be played well if you want to win.”