One of my favorite events on the PGA Tour calendar is The Players Championship. While it’s not technically listed as a “major,” The Players is as world class a tournament as they come and one of the better events of the year. All the stars of the PGA Tour are there, there’s a huge purse, and there are not many courses better than TPC Sawgrass.
Featuring an absolutely loaded field of 144 of the Tour’s best, this week features a new wrinkle this year. Normally in May, the Tour rearranged the PGA schedule so the FedEx Cup Playoffs would not continue to interfere with the beginning of the NFL season. So here we are, a big time test on the PGA tour earlier than we usually get it, coinciding with conference tournament play in the College Basketball world. Without further ado, let’s get into my picks, thoughts, and overall view of the 2019 Players Championship.
The big name guys always seem to get up for the Players. A purse that totals 12.5 million dollars, a winners circle prize of 2.25 million and a five-year tour card exemption coupled with a three-year major exemption will get the juices flowing in anything that’s actually alive. TPC Sawgrass is a big time, big boy course where the lights shine very bright. Featuring one of the most iconic holes in the world, Sawgrass is home to the island green par three, on Hole 16. There’s always terrific theater down the stretch in the Players, a lot of which stems from the sixteenth. Recent memories such as Rickie Fowler pin hunting on 16 en route to winning the event come to mind.
Dustin Johnson, the world number one and dropper of bombs is the Vegas favorite for this one, but I’m not sold on him. This isn’t a course that he’s exactly lit up in the past. Look for DJ to get a top-20 finish, but it’ll be nothing to write home about. A guy to keep an eye on this week is Mr. Italy himself, Francesco Molinari. Coming off a huge win at the former home of the late and great Arnold Palmer,(Bay Hill) Molinari is scorching hot coming into this one. Molinari is a longshot according to the fine folks in Las Vegas, at 22-1, but is a guy who can make some serious noise this week. Justin Thomas is another guy who is looking to make some serious noise this week. Thomas has always done well for himself in this event and at this course and should be in line for a very fun week. Look for Thomas to be a mortal lock to finish in the top five and make a run at winning this thing.
When you’re the most iconic and probably best golfer of all time, you deserve your own line. While it was a bummer/almost gave me a heart attack that Tiger had to sit out Bay Hill with a neck injury, he’s healthy and ready to go this week. Tiger has only played here twice in the last five events but was a winner here in 2013. This is a guy who made leaps and bounds last year in his rehab and finished off the year with an awesome win at East Lake. There is nothing quite like the effect he has on the sport of golf. He doesn’t just move the needle. The guy is the needle. Tiger roars this week at Sawgrass, winning with a score of -14.