A (Brief) Preview of THE PLAYERS Championship 2022

Week three of the Florida swing heads to the TPC Sawgrass essentially the headquarters for the PGA Tour in Ponte Verde Beach — for THE PLAYERS Championship.

This is an event the needs little introduction. It’s risen considerably in status over year, to the point where some consider this event golf’s 5th major.

It’s the flagship event for the PGA Tour, and they’ve continued to demonstrate that monetarily — increasing the prize purse from 15 million to 20 million, with an astounding 3.6 million dollars going to the winner.

The venue is one of the most well manicured and maintained on tour, the crowds are always electric, and the golf features all-around excellence.

The Field

With such a massive prize purse at stake, it’s unsurprising that THE PLAYERS has drawn 47 of the top 50 ranked golfers in the world, with Bryson DeChambeau and Harris English missing only due to injury, and Phil Mickelson missing due to…reasons!

Overall it’s a massive 144 player field that features the very best.

Justin Thomas arrives as the defending champion. He stormed up the leaderboard over the weekend last year, after just barely making the cut, firing rounds of 64 and 68 with some of the best approach and iron play I can remember in recent time.

Somewhat surprisingly, Thomas hasn’t won an event since last year’s players championship. He went through a bit of a slump (for his standards), but Thomas has rounded into form of late and it wouldn’t be a shock at all for him to go back-to-back here.

In a similar player mold as Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa arrives as one of the clear favorites this week.

Morikawa’s game mirrors Thomas’ in a lot ways, particularly the elite iron and wedge play. Morikawa is much more accurate off-the-tee than JT, a skillset that has proven crucial at TPC Sawgrass so as to avoid having to play out of the thick bermuda rough.

There will be a ton of competition this week at THE PLAYERS though…and as we’ve seen in the past, even long-shots can find victory here. See: Si Woo Kim (100/1 odds winner in 2017).

The Course

The beautifully manicured Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass was designed by Pete Dye, featuring a ton of hazards — in fact, there are water hazards on 17/18 holes.

Pete Dye courses typically require golfers to think through the round and play positional golf. You want to be in the right spots off-the-tee, as it’s not so much about distance. Then you want to hit shots into the correct parts or quadrants of green — again, making iron and wedge play valuable.

To further drive home the point that distance doesn’t matter here, TPC Saw Grass measures just 7,189 yards as a Par 72. The Par-5s are all reachable and in many ways essential to score on to succeed this week.

In typical Pete Dye fashion, the greens have shaved run offs that make short game play important as well.

Overall, golfers really need their game to be in complete, well-rounded form in order to succeed at TPC Sawgrass.

Due in part to the many hazards, TPC Sawgrass has produced variable and highly volatile results for golfers. Literally anyone could miss the cut this week — last year, Rory McIlroy (a former winner here) missed the cut by a mile.

It’s also worth noting that THE PLAYERS moved from May to March back in 2019, making course history even more shaky. For a look at how guys have performed at the March version of this event, focus on 2019, 2020 (only one round though), and 2021 results.

Lastly, TPC Sawgrass is probably most well known for the par-3 17th and its island green…but don’t forget about hole 18. It’s one of the absolute best, most intimidating final holes out there.

Final Thoughts

Like any Florida event, THE PLAYERS can very easily make your bets or DraftKings lineups look silly.

It only takes one round where a golfer you bet on or rostered is just a little bit off and hits one or two shots into the water. There are just so many holes at TPC Sawgrass where big numbers can be made, causing rounds to go off the rails quickly and players to eject out of nowhere.

Don’t be discouraged by this volatility.

THE PLAYERS is still a tremendously entertaining event, played at a course that I find to be enjoyable to watch on TV…

Not to mention the coverage all week is some of the best that we get as golf fans all year, featuring one of the best fields.

Thanks for reading and happy GOLF.

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“Strokes Gained: Narrative” is a PGA Tour betting and DFS blog aiming to supplement golf data and stats with storylines and humor.

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Nick DeMott

Nick DeMott

Golf Writer + Naturalist + Old Man at Heart

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