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Sunday, May 5, 2013

THE PLAYERS Championship - Preview

Next up on the PGA TOUR schedule is THE PLAYERS Championship. It is at the same time, one of the best and worst events of the year. Several of holes are iconic, with the par-3 17th the most memorable. But at the same time, it doesn't identify a particular type of player or highlight a specific strength.

It's nice to be long, but probably better to be straight. If a player is a putter/scrambler, he's got a chance because the scores won't go too low. The same can be said for an elite ball-striker with a balky putter. 

When it comes to fantasy, it's about as frustrating of a tournament to peg as possible. Of course, I guess that's the case with many Pete Dye venues. TPC Sawgrass (this week's site) is probably closer to a Harbour Town than a Kiawah Island, Crooked Stick or TPC Louisiana.

TPC Sawgrass is a 7,215 par-72 layout with four par 5s. Three of those are regularly reachable with the par-5 ninth the only question mark. The par 3s can be demanding, as are several of the par 4s, and there's no shortage of water on the course.

My lean this week will be form over history, because you have to be confident in your game to handle the visual discomfort Pete throws at you. A good example of that is Tiger Woods not being able to fake his way around this course with any degree of success lately. As well as he's played this year, it could be different this week, but he hasn't trusted his swing enough to do well here in the recent past. Billy Horschel could be dangerous, with a T9 at Harbour Town and a win at TPC Louisiana.

It's also not unheard of for a relative unknown to win here. Granted, it's the strongest field of the year, but Craig Perks won this tournament. Stephen Ames did too, and Alex Cejka almost did.

Add to the unknowns the course is extremely water logged, with images of the walkway to the par-3 17th underwater circulating the internet. A good chunk of the field played the less-than-pure greens at Quail Hollow last week, so how will they cope? 

For those of you that have nothing on the line this week, THE PLAYERS will be a blast to watch. Everyone else will likely sweat out unexpected missed cuts, threats from people not on the radar and anxiety of what you "should" have done or "almost" did. In other words, a replay of Quail Hollow!

We'll crunch the numbers and see how things look for tomorrow's power rankings.

Until then, happy research!

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