The PLAYERS Championship Preview: can Scheffler repeat last season's Sawgrass success

13 March 2024

The next stop on the PGA Tour is a big one from Ponte Vedra Beach and the PGA Tour’s headquarters. It’s the ‘fifth major’ and while it may not be the “strongest field in golf” anymore it’s still a star-studded one that will turn out at TPC Sawgrass. 750 FedEx cup points are on offer to the victor, there’s a purse of $25 million to split amongst golf’s elite and several exemptions come with the winner's cheque.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the PLAYERS Championship in 2024 where the field will consist of 144 runners. $4.5 million is on offer for top spot.

Scottie Scheffler, 6.6, will defend after his runaway victory last year. Rory McIlroy is also a former winner of the PLAYERS Championship, and he enters the betting at 18.0. Justin Thomas has tasted success at Sawgrass too and he’s 3rd favourite at 28.0. Will Zalatoris 38.0 is finding form again after injury and is worth a look.

The Course

TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course plays around 7,200 yards to a par of 72. We’re looking at softer conditions on the new March slot in the calendar but sub-air systems under the green complexes mean the surfaces can still run fast and firm. Driving accuracy and positioning are at a premium on narrow dog-legged fairways. A top short game, scrambling ability, and shot-making skills will sort the men from the boys at TPC Sawgrass, and if it blows let’s look forward to some drama down the stretch, including at the island green par-three seventeenth hole, at the risk-reward Pete Dye venue. Par fives are there to be taken advantage of and scoring will need to be done on these long holes.

The Contenders

Min Woo Lee, 34.0 or 6.6, was sitting pretty after 54 holes of the 2023 PLAYERS Championship on debut. He shot 68-70-66-76 for an eventual sixth-placed finish but his first three round scores had him in the final pairing with Scottie Scheffler. The Aussie is rounding nicely into form with a second at the Cognizant Classic where he ranked fourth in strokes gained approach. Lee was the top debutant previously at Augusta and seems to take to certain courses - the Renaissance Club being another example. Min Woo’s scrambling skills were second to none when he was on the DP World Tour, and he has four wins to his name on the main tours on the World stage.

Hideki Matsuyama, 42.0 or 4.9, is a resident of Orlando, Florida, and his injury woes now seem to be behind him. Hideki hit a round of nine under to steam through the field at the Genesis and he followed that up with a strong performance at Bay Hill when in one of the final pairings on Sunday. Matsuyama is a big course specialist given his tee-to-green (ranks 15th in SG: tee-to-green) and ball-striking prowess and he’s posted three top 10s at TPC Sawgrass. Matsuyama also ranks fourth in strokes gained around the green in 2024 and 13th in approach shot performance in 2023.

Shane Lowry, 48.0 or 5.1, has strong course history here, and he’s recorded three top 20 finishes on the Stadium Course including an eighth place in 2021. Lowry was t35 here last year despite a poor 77 in the opening round. He’ll have fond memories of having made an ace here in 2022 on the infamous Island Green 17th. The Irishman also lives in Florida and comes to the PLAYERS Championship with confidence high following a fourth place at the Cognizant Classic and he went one better for solo 3rd at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Shane is 8th in driving accuracy and 5th in strokes gained approach in 2024. He finished 2023 ranking 14th in total driving and is renowned for his shot-making skills around the greens. 

Tom Hoge, 75.0 or 7.0, last five performances have seen finishing positions of 6-17-8-28-12 and his progressive form rating on my model is 9.2 out of 10. Hoge has four appearances herein the last five years and has finished no worse than 33rd, with his best being a third place last year. That performance included the new course record of 62. Off the back of a 12th-place finish in Bay Hill, he is the sneaky big value play this week. Very interestingly, Hoge leads both the proximity to the hole and strokes gained approach statistics in 2024.

Recommended Bets

Back Min Woo Lee to win @ 34.0 or t10 @ 6.6
Back Hideki Matsyuma to win @ 44.0 or t10 @ 4.9
Back Shane Lowry to win @ 48.0 or t10 @ 5.1
Back Tom Hoge to win @ 75.0 or t10 @ 7.0

Latest PLAYERS Championship Odds

We use cookies to manage user login sessions, enhance user experience, perform essential site operations and tailor advertising and other content to reflect your specific interests. By clicking "I Accept" you consent to the use of cookies and similar technologies for the purposes we outline in our Cookie Policy.