PGA Tour Picks: The 50th Players

Top-ranked Scottie Sheffler is the man on the PGA Tour right now.

The 27-year-old Scheffler, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five strokes on Sunday, is a prohibitive favorite to successfully defend his title in the 50th Players Championship, which begins Thursday on the Champion Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

“I remember a lot of the final round, but I don’t really remember too much of the three rounds before that,” who joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win the Masters and Then Players in a 12-month period when he also won by five shots. “I feel like I did a good job of staying patient and then when things started going well, I capitalized on that. The (chip-in on No. 8 in the final round) gave me some good momentum and then made a good birdie on nine, made a nice putt on No. 10 and then good birdies on 11 and 12. I definitely used that momentum for good, and I kept pushing ahead and was able to make things fairly comfortable down the stretch, which was good.

“(The Champion Course) is really hard. I mean, you just have to hit it so good around this place to play well, and I think that’s why you don’t see the same winners every year, because it doesn’t really suit one type of player. If you look at the golf course, No. 1, it requires a fade (off the tee), No. 2’s a draw. Four is a fade, No. 5’s a fade, No. 7’s a draw. No. 9, you’ve got to hit a fade, then a draw; No. 10’s a draw, No. 12’s a draw, 13 is a draw. Then you get to No. 15, it’s a cut, 16 is a draw and 18 is a draw. It’s very interesting how the course works like that, and so that’s why … one guy just hasn’t figured this place out.

“It was just great to win here.”

Scheffler, who has won seven times on the PGA Tour in the last three seasons, leads nine players from the top 10 of the World Ranking in the field this week, with third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain the only one missing as he was suspended by the PGA Tour for signing a lucrative offer to play LIV Golf.

Other former Players champions teeing it up this week include second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day of Australia, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Si-Woo Kim of South Korea and Adam Scott of Australia.

The Players has become such a respected event that it is known as “The Fifth Major,” as the players value their tournament just about as much as the Masters, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.

“How this event has grown in size, scope and impact over the past five decades is something we’re extremely proud of, and we continue to focus on delivering the best championship to our players, fans and partners,” PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan said.

“The Stadium Course is in pristine condition,  and as always will be one of the stars of the show this week. There is no doubt we will crown a most deserving champion on Sunday, one who faces not only the challenge of the Stadium Course, but a field whose hallmark is its strength and depth.”

In addition to Nicklaus, Woods and the others mentioned above, other former winners of The Players include Lee Trevino, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman of Australia, Raymond Floyd, Lanny Wadkins, Fred Couples, Nick Price of Zimbabwe, Tom Kite, Justin Leonard, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Hal Sutton, David Duval, Davis Love III, Calvin Peete, Lee Janzen, Steve Elkington and Martin Kaymer of Germany.

Now, that’s a major list, but Scheffler will be trying to accomplish something none of the others have done, and that’s win The Players back-to-back.


1. Scottie Scheffler, United States – The top-ranked Scheffler is coming off a victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and defending his title in The Players, having won both by five strokes. He has five top-10 finishes in six starts this season and seven PGA Tour victories in the last three seasons. Scheffler posted three rounds in the 60s last season at TPC Sawgrass.

2. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland – The second-ranked player in the world captured The Players in 2019 by one stroke over Jim Furyk and has three other finishes in the top 10 in 13 starts at TPC Sawgrass. McIlroy claimed his 38th pro victory in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in January, but has been up-and-down in three top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour this season.

 3. Viktor Hovland, Norway – Hovland, who is up to No. 4 in the World Golf Rankings after winning three times on the PGA Tour last season including the Tour Championship, has posted a best result of a tie for 19th in the Genesis Invitational and also tied for 22nd in the Sentry this year. He tied for third in The Players last year after also tying for ninth the season before.  

4. Xander Schauffele, United States – The sixth-ranked Schauffele, from La Jolla and San  Diego State, has posted four finishes in the top 10 this season, including a tie for third in the AmEx and a tie for fourth in the Genesis Invitational. He tied for second in the 2018 Players Championship and also tied for 19th last year in his five appearances in the tournament.

5. Hideki Matsuyama, Japan – Matsuyama claimed his ninth victory on the PGA Tour and 19th as a pro last month in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades and has three other top-25 finishes this season. His best result in The Players Championship was solo fifth last season, and he also tied for seventh in 2016 and finished in a tie for eighth in 2019.       

6. Patrick Cantlay, United States – The seventh-ranked Cantlay, from Los Alamitos and UCLA, has three finishes in the top 15 this season, the best a tie for fourth in the Genesis Invitational, in which he opened 64-65. An eight-time winner on  the PGA Tour, he tied for fourth in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, his best result among three results in the top 15 this season.    

7. Wyndham Clark, United States – The reigning U.S. Open champion, who is fifth in the World Golf Rankings, claimed his third PGA Tour victory last month in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and also finished second in the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. Clark is making his fifth start in The Players Championship, and his best finish was a tie for 27th last season.

8. Shane Lowry, Ireland – The 2019 Open champion was tied for the lead after three rounds in each of the last two weeks before tying for fourth in the Cognizant Classic and finishing solo third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Lowry is making his ninth appearance in the Players Championship, and his best result was solo eighth in 2021, and he also tied for 13th im 2022.

9. Justin Thomas, United States – The two-time PGA champion has four finishes in the op 12 this season, including a tie for third in the AmEx and a tie for sixth at Pebble Beach. Thomas claimed one of his 15 PGA Tour victories in the 2001 Players by shooting 64-68 on the weekend, and also tied for third in 2016 in addition to tying for 11th in 2018 by closing with 68-66.     

10. Ludvig Aberg, Sweden – The 10th-ranked Aberg has finished in the top 25 in his last four events on the PGA Tour, including solo second at Pebble Beach and a tie for ninth in the Farmers Insurance Open after claiming his first PGA Tour victory and fourth title as a pro in the RSM Classic last season. He is making his first appearance in The Players Championship this week.   

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Max Homa, United States; Will Zalatoris, United States; Min Woo Lee, Australia; Jordan Spieth, United States; Sam Burns, United States; Tommy Fleetwood, England; Jason Day, Australia; Collin Morikawa, United States; Sungjae Im, South Korea; Sahith Theegala, United States.


1. Nicolai Hojgaard, Denmark – A four-time winner as a pro in Europe, Hojgaard finished second in the Farmers and tied for seventh in the Dubai Desert Classic. Making Players debut.  

2. Eric van Rooyen, South Africa – Van Rooyen has won six times as a pro and was T-2 in the Cognizant Classic and T-8 in the Mexico Open. Finished T-13 in Players debut two years ago.  

3. Beau Hossler, United States – A 15-time winner as an amateur, Hossler tied for sixth in the Farmers among three top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour this year. T-46 in the 2018 Players.

4. Stephan Jaeger, Germany – After winning six times on the Korn Ferry Tour, Jaeger finished T-3 in the Farmers and the Mexico Open this year. He was T-44 in the Farmers last season.

5. Brendon Todd, United States – A seven-time winner as a pro, Todd finished T-6 in the API last week and was T-22 in Phoenix. T-27 in Players last year was his best in five starts.      

For first-round tee times and complete results once the tournament starts, visit:

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