This week the PGA Tour moves up the coast to TPC Sawgrass for the Players Championship. The field is arguably the strongest of the year—even with Tiger not playing. Pete Dye’s Stadium Course exposes any weakness a player might have and, with its many hazards, applies constant mental pressure. Since the course isn’t overly long, anyone who is playing well can contend.
In the past, those who have succeeded at the Stadium Course have excelled in mid-irons, driving accuracy, and—less measurably but no less importantly—mental fortitude. While the course tops out at just under 7,200 yards, players will have plenty of mid-iron approaches because many of the medium-length holes force lay-ups. Driving accuracy is key, as the hazards lining the corridors are quite severe, and the small, firm greens put a premium on being in the fairway. Finally, TPC Sawgrass is the ultimate test of what’s between your ears. Competitors have to think on every shot and can’t afford any mental lapses.
For your fantasy lineups, consider a few players who fit that bill:
Collin Morikawa $7,900
Morikawa is the ideal fit for the Stadium Course. He leads the Players Championship field in Strokes Gained: Approach and is near the top in driving accuracy. In his ball-striking ability, Morikawa reminds me of Adam Scott, the 2004 Players champion and one of the most consistent performers at this tournament. Morikawa brings elite consistency; he has yet to miss a cut on the PGA Tour. If he can find any semblance of his putter this week, he will contend. At $7,900, he’s an absolute bargain.
Daniel Berger $7,200
Berger’s career resurgence has gone a bit under the radar. Finally healthy, he has made the weekend in 18 of his past 21 events. He has finished fourth, fifth, and ninth in his past three starts, while gaining strokes across the board over that three-event stretch. Berger has made the cut at the Players for the past four years in a row. His ninth-place finish in 2016 shows that he has the ability to contend on this course. At $7,200, he’s a great option for building around higher-priced players.
Hard to believe it has already been a year since Rahm’s collapse at the 2019 Players Championship. He was -15 through three rounds, needing only a 71 on Sunday to force a playoff. Instead, he faltered, got into it with his caddie, and shot 76 en route to a 12th place finish. We all know Rahm has immense talent; the question is whether he can keep his emotions in check under pressure at big events. In his past 10 worldwide starts, he has finished third or better in six times. In his five 2020 PGA Tour starts, he has placed no worse than 17th. His game is clearly in form. But can he handle the mental challenge this week?
Scott combines an elite skill set, great history at TPC Sawgrass, and excellent current form. A few weeks back, he won at Riviera, and now he heads to an event he won in 2004. Scott has made eight consecutive cuts at the Players and finished 12th or better in each of the past four. His ball-striking is well known. If you use Adam Scott this year, this is one of the best spots to do it.