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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS Course History - 2022 THE PLAYERS Championship

Hello PGA DFS family and welcome back to Horse For The Course! It was a true war of attrition at Bay Hill, with some of the world's top players battling difficult conditions and high scores over the weekend. When the dust finally settled, it was the tough Texan Scottie Scheffler who was the last man standing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It was the second win of both his career and the year, and further proof that Scheffler is going to be a major player on the PGA Tour for years to come.

After a brutal test at Bay Hill, we now turn our attention to one of the biggest events on the schedule...THE PLAYERS Championship!

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history and is part of our free PGA DFS content here at RotoBaller. For my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. It's part of our amazing PGA Premium package that includes an all-new PGA Research Station, Lineup Builder & Optimizer, and some of the best articles in the PGA DFS industry! You can sign up now using Promo Code: NICE for an extra discount at checkout!

Featured Promo: Golf is back! Come join the fun and win big with RotoBaller. Get our full-season PGA and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off! Our exclusive DFS Lineup Optimizer, Research Station, DFS Projections and weekly DFS/betting articles! Sign Up Now!

 

2022 THE PLAYERS Championship

It's difficult to believe that we've already arrived at THE PLAYERS Championship, but as this golf season flies by, here we are. This event serves as the PGA Tour's crown jewel, and as a result, we can expect wall-to-wall coverage this week, which is always a good thing for DFS players. Commonly referred to as the "fifth major" (should I type that in all caps as well?), the true significance of this event can be debated until the cows come home, but the strength of this PLAYERS' field is not up for debate, as 48 of the OWGR's top-50 golfers are expected to be in attendance this week at TPC Sawgrass.

Speaking of TPC Sawgrass...the place has volatility seemingly built into the DNA of its design, as Pete Dye infamously laid the course out with a mission to prevent an advantage for any specific “style” of play. A quick look at course history confirms that Dye’s undertaking has been successful, as even golfers with good results in THE PLAYERS appear to be just as likely to struggle in any given year.

I realize that's not exactly what you guys want to hear as DFS fans - trust me, it's not what I want to write either - but it is best to approach this week's event for what it is, which is, put simply, pretty damn tough to predict. With that said, in this week's edition of HFTC we will do our best to evaluate which players have been successful in this tournament and dive into the reasons why they've found success on this unique golf course. My initial takeaways as I research this week's edition? Iron play and experience appear to be key difference makers in this event. It is THE PLAYERS week ladies and gentlemen...let's dig in!

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week. And be sure to read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS articles to help you win big!

 

The Course: TPC Sawgrass

Par 72 - 7,256 Yards, Greens: Bermuda, Designed By: Pete Dye

At just over 7,200 yards, the Stadium Course is much shorter than most other "major championship" courses these golfers will face, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in bite. The Pete Dye design that opened in 1982 has endured as one of the trickiest courses in the world. In true Dye fashion, it's a second-shot golf course with danger lurking everywhere in the form of water hazards and bunkers.

This layout was specifically designed to not favor any one style of play, so we see holes of varying length in Par 3's, 4's, and 5's, doglegs that go both left and right, with no two consecutive holes playing in the same direction. THE PLAYERS' most iconic hole is, of course, the Par-3 17th 'Island Hole'. The 17th is short, but its psychological impact on players in key moments can certainly make it difficult. A recent update to TPC Sawgrass now has the 12th hole playing as a driveable Par-4 with water in play to raise the risk/reward stakes.

With TPC Sawgrass being such a balanced course, it's tough to give the edge to one type of player this week. While we can normally classify courses as a 'bomber' track or an 'accuracy' layout, we have no such luxury this week. I'm targeting ball strikers with strong approach games that are solid from tee to green. I will also consider a player's short game strength and ability to avoid bogeys, as big numbers are seemingly lurking everywhere at TPC Sawgrass. It's always hard to predict putting, but this week's winner will need to get hot with the flat stick on these fast Bermuda grass greens. I will also lean towards those in the field that have some PLAYERS experience, as this track can be brutal on first-timers

Check out RotoBaller's PGA Premium Course Breakdown by Josh Bennett for an in-depth breakdown of this week's golf course!

 

Recent PLAYERS Championship Winners

  • 2021: Justin Thomas (-14)
  • 2020: Canceled due to COVID-19
  • 2019: Rory McIlroy (-16)
  • 2018: Webb Simpson (-18)
  • 2017: Si Woo Kim (-10)

 

Event Notes

  • Justin Thomas led last year's field in SG: Tee to Green (+13) & SG: Par-5 (+8.8) en route to victory.
  • There has never been a back-to-back winner of THE PLAYERS.
  • 48 of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking are in the field this week.

 

The Horse

Daniel Berger

Notable Course History: T9 (2021), T67 ('19), T57 ('18), T65 ('17), T9 ('16)
DraftKings Price: $8,800 FanDuel Price: $10,500

With 48 of the world's top-50 golfers expected to be in action at TPC Sawgrass, there are certainly more elite players than Daniel Berger available to us on this huge DFS slate. However, Berger may well be the best fit for this week's unique layout.

Berger's PLAYERS' history might not blow us away at first glance, but five consecutive made cuts with a pair of top-10 finishes could be considered elite in this volatility-filled event. In fact, he's one of only eight golfers in this 144-man field that comes into the 2022 edition of THE PLAYERS having made the cut in each of his last five starts in the "fifth major".

It's a testament to Berger's terrific all-around skill set and mastery of all facets of the game. There might not be many areas of the game in which we'd actually consider him the "best" (although he does rank first in this elite field in SG: Approach over the last 50 rounds!) in the world, but this is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts, as Berger grades out eighth among this week's entrants in SG: T2G over the last 50 rounds.

Yes, the wheels undoubtedly came off the wagon down the stretch at the Honda Classic two weeks ago, as the FSU alum blew a seemingly insurmountable five-shot lead in the final round at PGA National. It was a publicized collapse and one which likely left a bad taste in a lot of mouths. I'm willing to take the 30,000-foot view here with Berger, instead of focusing on one bad round on a very difficult golf course. This guy is tough as nails and I expect a big bounce-back this week in one of golf's premier events.

 

The Ponies

Justin Thomas

Notable Course History: Win ('21), T35 ('19), T11 ('18), T75 ('17), T3 ('16)
DraftKings Price: $10,400  FanDuel Price: $11,900

The fact that there's never been a back-to-back winner of THE PLAYERS is always a popular talking point - and a testament to how tough to peg this event is - but I think there's a very legitimate chance for Justin Thomas to be the first to do it this week.

JT comes into this year's PLAYERS in an eerily similar fashion to what we saw last year...he's yet to win this year but has displayed very sharp form to this point in 2022, posting top-eight finishes in three of his four starts this year. Thomas is certainly showing flashes but has failed to put everything together for all four rounds of a tournament. It feels like a steady build-up to an inevitable eruption of the sort we saw over the weekend in last year's PLAYERS when he posted rounds of 64-68 to win at TPC Sawgrass.

His event history indicates that last year's win was no fluke. Thomas has never missed a cut in six career PLAYERS starts and his 70.35 career scoring average at TPC Sawgrass stands as the fourth-best among this week's field of entrants. We can trace this success to his long-elite iron play. Over long-term measurements (last 100 rounds), JT ranks second in this week's field in SG: Approach. For all its bells and whistles, Sawgrass is a true Pete Dye layout at heart, which means it is a second-shot golf course. Thomas' sterling iron play should keep him firmly in the mix once again this year.

Hideki Matsuyama

Notable Course History: MC ('21), T8 ('19), MC ('18), T22 ('17), T7 ('16)
DraftKings Price: $9,600 FanDuel Price: $10,900

If you ever wanna get my blood pressure up, just mention the 2020 PLAYERS Championship to me. Of course, there were certainly more important things going on in the world at that moment, but the fact that the event was canceled will always be a sore spot in my self-centered corner of the world due to the fact that I was absolutely ALL-IN on Hideki Matsuyama - who just so happened to open with a first-round 63 - that week.

While I'll always wonder what might have been in the 2020 edition, as it stands Matsuyama has missed the cut in two of his last three "official" PLAYERS starts. It's not a truly accurate representation of just how good he's been in this event throughout his career. Despite the missteps in 2021 & 2019, the Japanese superstar still grades out near the top of the field from a course history perspective with a pair of top-10s and three additional top-25s over his seven (official) career starts at TPC Sawgrass.

Matsuyama comes into the week off a couple of middling finishes in his last two starts, but he's not too far removed from a victory at the Sony Open and - a slight stumble at Riviera aside - his iron play has continued to fire. He gained over four strokes on Approach last weekend at the API and has finished with positive iron numbers in six of his last seven starts.

 

Did you know RotoBaller has a Premium DFS PGA subscription?

Like what you read today? You can show your support for Joe by using the discount code NICE when purchasing a PGA Premium Pass. You get 10% off and full access to all of our Premium PGA articles, DFS tools, and Lineup Optimizer! You also get access to weekly betting picks from Spencer Aguiar, one of the top betting minds in the industry. Spencer is absolutely crushing out of the gate in 2022!

 

Adam Scott

Notable Course History: T48 ('21), T12 ('19), T11 ('18), T6 ('17), T12 ('16), Win ('04)
DraftKings Price: $8,200 FanDuel Price: $9,700

It's truly amazing that a guy that won this event 18 years ago is still relevant to the DFS discussion this week, but Adam Scott and his beautiful golf swing continue to defy father time. Since that breakthrough PLAYERS win in 2004, the 41-year-old Aussie has posted three additional top-10 finishes at TPC Sawgrass and has maintained a high level of consistent output in one of golf's most volatile tournaments. Scott has run off a hard-to-fathom nine consecutive made cuts in THE PLAYERS Championship, with top-12 finishes in four of his last five trips to TPC Sawgrass.

Sergio Garcia

Notable Course History: T9 ('21), T22 ('19), 2nd ('15), T3 ('14), Win ('08)
DraftKings Price: $7,400 FanDuel Price: $9,400

Like the aforementioned Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia is another veteran with an immensely decorated PLAYERS track record. The 2008 champion of this event has been a mainstay on TPC Sawgrass leaderboards for over two decades. Remarkably, the normally-erratic Garcia has been the most consistent version of himself in one of the game's most volatile events, making the cut in a ridiculous 20 of his 22 career PLAYERS starts - he's played the weekend for 18 years in a row - with a top-10 finish coming as recently as last year's edition. The Spaniard has remained relevant thanks to his generational ball-striking talent. Despite being 42-years-old, Garcia grades out eighth in this elite field in SG: Ball Striking over the last 50 rounds.

Si Woo Kim

Notable Course History: T9 ('21), T56 ('19), T63 ('18), Win ('17), T23 ('16)
DraftKings Price: $7,300 FanDuel Price: $8,700

Si Woo Kim became the youngest PLAYERS winner in history in 2017, mastering TPC Sawgrass at the tender age of 21. In addition to the highlight victory, Kim also has a top-10 and a top-25 on his PLAYERS resume. His play in the fifth major has been an extension of his overall excellence on Pete Dye-designed golf courses. In addition to his world-class record at Sawgrass, the Korean's Dye resume includes a victory at the PGA West Stadium Course, a playoff loss at Harbour Town, and a ranking of sixth among this week's field in SG: T2G over 50 measured rounds on Dye courses. Si Woo comes into this year's edition in sneaky-good form, having gained strokes T2G in all six of his 2022 starts.

 

Win Big With RotoBaller

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