Yahoo PGA DFS: The Players Championship
Yahoo PGA DFS: The Players Championship

This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Golf series.

THE PLAYERS Championship

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course) - Par 72 - 7,189 yards

Field - 144 Entrants

Purse - $12.5M

The Preview

Whether you prefer to call it the PGA Tour's fifth major or not, THE PLAYERS Championship's strength of field and massive purse size are undeniable. Each member of the Official World Golf Ranking's top-50 will be among the 144 competitors in attendance for Leg 3 of the Florida Swing, which also features the largest payout structure we'll see all season with $2.25M invading the pockets of this week's champion, not to mention entry into all four majors for the next three years. The relatively short Stadium Course designed by Pete Dye at TPC Sawgrass is famous for its iconic water hazards and the picturesque par-3 17th, where you'll find just about the most intimidating yet simplistic wedge shot imaginable. It's certainly no bomber's paradise, but the layout will now play much longer and slower given the PLAYERS' move from May to March. High temps might not even reach the mid-60s during the final two rounds, while cool air is expected to blow at a noticeable rate throughout the tournament.

Recent Champions

2018 - Webb Simpson

2017 - Si Woo Kim

2016 - Jason Day

2015 - Rickie Fowler

2014 - Martin Kaymer

2013 - Tiger Woods

2012 - Matt Kuchar

2011 - K.J. Choi

2010 - Tim Clark

Key Stats to Victory

SG: Approach - Hitting TPC Sawgrass' petite greens is a major advantage and prior to Webb Simpson's 2018 victory, the previous six winners all gained at least four strokes approach

SG: Putting - Simpson gained 9.4 strokes with the flat stick here last year, capitalizing on 25 par-breakers and numerous clutch par saves

Driving accuracy - Simpson also led the field in FIR percentage en route to his wire-to-wire win, sacrificing power as he finished dead last in driving distance

Birdie or Better percentage - Twenty-six entrants managed to rack up 20 or more par-breakers on the Stadium Course in 2018, including a surplus of eagles

Yahoo Value Picks - based on $200 salary cap

Cream of the Crop

Dustin Johnson - $45

Coming off his second international win of 2019 at the WGC-Mexico Championship, Johnson heads to TPC Sawgrass with results of T17-T12 in his last two PLAYERS appearances after underwhelming at the venue earlier in his career. He ranks top-10 on Tour in both SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Putting, but his power should become more of a factor this time around as the course plays longer.

Rory McIlroy - $44

Failing to reach the winner's circle as a member of the final group for what seemed like the umpteenth time, McIlroy notched his fifth straight top-6 performance at last week's API where he finished top-5 among the field in SG: Off-the-Tee, GIR percentage and driving distance. No one has been better from tee to green this season, so it's only a matter of time before the short game follows and Rory collects his first victory since last year at Bay Hill.

Xander Schauffele - $40

Schauffele played the par-4s and par-5s in a combined 16-under at TPC Sawgrass to land in a tie for second during his debut last year, ultimately racking up 19 birdies and two eagles to just seven bogeys in the process. Now he's up to eighth in the OWGR and has strung together eight consecutive top-25s. The leader in FedExCup points is fourth in SG: Total, 11th in SG: Approach and 14th in birdie or better percentage.

Francesco Molinari - $39

On the heels of a dominant final-round showing at Arnie's Place, Molinari will look to add his fifth career top-10 at THE PLAYERS following his first win since the Open Championship. The Italian hit 43 of 56 fairways in regulation at Bay Hill while also ranking T6 in GIR percentage, fourth in SG: Putting and fifth in scrambling.

Glue Guys

Hideki Matsuyama - $37

Sooner or later Matsuyama will have just an average week with the flat stick and blaze past the field. He lost over EIGHT strokes putting at the API, but gained nearly 12 strokes tee-to-green as he remains one of the best iron players in the game. There's a decent chance the putter holds him back again in the immediate future, but he finished top-25 in four straight TPC Sawgrass appearances from 2014-2017. He ranks second on Tour in SG: Approach and fourth in scrambling.

Sergio Garcia - $36

The 2008 PLAYERS champion has made the cut in 17 of 19 voyages to Ponte Vedra, including top-10s in three of the past six editions. The 39-year-old Spaniard enters the week in great form with results of T9-T6 in his last two starts at the Honda Classic and WGC-Mexico, but could use improvements with the putter much like Matsuyama. He gained over seven strokes approach at both PGA National and the Club de Golf Chapultepec.

Adam Scott - $36

A horse for the course if there ever was one at TPC Sawgrass, Scott is one of just two players in this year's field to have won THE PLAYERS in March (the other is Tiger). More recently, the Aussie has gone T11-T6-T12 at the event since 2016. Scott burned gamers as a popular play with a missed cut in his last start at the Honda Classic, which could help lighten ownership despite ranking fifth in the field in SG: Total throughout his last 12 rounds.

Ian Poulter - $35

Poulter's streak of four consecutive top-6s came to an end in Orlando this past week, but he still ranked top-15 among the API field in SG: Tee-to-Green, driving accuracy and scrambling en route to a T23. The Englishman has gained strokes from tee to green in each of his starts on the PGA Tour this season and posted a third-place result in Mexico when the putter also cooperated. He's a collective 18-under the past two years at Sawgrass.

Bargain Bin

Lucas Glover - $29

Glover is playing his best golf in basically a decade with top-20s in all but one of his nine starts to begin the 2018-19 campaign. He added his third straight top-10 this past week at Bay Hill, breaking par in all four rounds as he finished seventh in SG: Putting and hit nearly 70 percent of the fairways in regulation. Glover notched a T6 at THE PLAYERS in 2017 and currently resides at No. 4 on Tour in GIR percentage.

Matthew Fitzpatrick - $29

The baby-faced Englishman defeated McIlroy in the final pairing at the API, but fell two strokes shy of Molinari after grasping the 54-hole lead. Fitzpatrick was brilliant with his wedge play as he finished fourth in SG: Around-the-Green and second in scrambling, but the 24-year-old also gained almost three strokes approach. Dating back to the WGC-Mexico Championship, Fitzpatrick has gained over 12 strokes tee-to-green in eight rounds.

Keith Mitchell - $29

Mitchell proved for the second straight week that although he might be far from a great putter, bermuda grass is his darling. The Honda Classic champ followed his win at PGA National by tying for sixth at the API, but it could've been even better without a trio of doubles. Mitchell was top-10 in putts per GIR at Bay Hill and 15th in SG: Approach, rising to a career best 58th in the OWGR.

Jim Furyk - $20

The most accurate player off the tee this season, Furyk has hit 82 percent of his fairways in regulation on the way to three top-15s in five starts dating to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. The 48-year-old will struggle on longer tracks, but his precision is valuable at TPC Sawgrass as he also ranks eighth on Tour in GIR percentage. Furyk has notched four career top-10s at THE PLAYERS, accompanying 17 made cuts in 22 attempts.

Strategy Tips on Yahoo this week

Jason Day's withdrawal after just six holes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational sent a shock wave through the DFS community, so expect gamers to proceed somewhat cautiously with guys like Justin Thomas (wrist), Tiger Woods (neck) and Day himself. Injury risk opens the door to jump on potentially limited ownership for a few top-ranked golfers such as the aforementioned trio, however. The narrative at TPC Sawgrass includes precision over power as SG: Approach and fairways hit are deemed all-important, but I won't be turning a blind eye to distance in my selections as the conditions at the Stadium Course are clearly altered in March.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryce Danielson
Bryce covers the PGA for RotoWire and provides input on the golf cheat sheet. He also contributes to the coverage for NFL, NBA and other sports.
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