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The Players Championship Preview: The Fifth Major

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Redemption comes in many forms in the world of professional sports, and while professional golfers arenít typically associated with off-the-course issues that need redeeming, there are still plenty of ways that they can redeem themselves. Case in point J.B. Holmes, who was in position to redeem himself last weekend, not for something he did or failed to do, but because of an ailment that resulted in brain surgery in 2011.

Here's where it gets tricky talking about redemption, though. Is a player in position to redeem himself because of an injury? Sadly, the short answer is yes. Fail to live up to all expectations for any reason and you must redeem yourself. Not all redemption stories are the same, though, just as not all ailments and injuries are the same. A sore wrist may take a week to heal, it may take a month to heal, it's different for everyone. Holmes' case was unique because there was no one with whom to compare him. How many athletes miss time because of brain surgery? The bar for his recovery had yet to be set, which left all of us on the outside wondering if he'd ever play at a high level again, let alone compete for titles on the PGA Tour. After a couple years of mixed results, we finally have our answer. Maybe he didnít need to redeem himself, but regardless, J.B. Holmes is indeed back and fully redeemed -- if you want to call it that.

This week:
The Players Championship - TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Last Year:
Tiger Woods shot a final-round 70 on his way to a two-stroke victory over three players.

Players to Consider:

Matt Kuchar

Kuchar has been the best player on the planet the last couple months and is returning to the site of his biggest victory, which came just two years ago on this course. Kuchar's been hit or miss at this event, but considering the state of his game, he should be a hit this week.

Jordan Spieth

If Spieth can handle Augusta on his first attempt, he can handle Sawgrass. Sure, these two courses are entirely different, but Spieth has proven time and again he's the real deal, and the usual deterrents don't apply when considering him.

Zach Johnson

Johnson entered the 2014 calendar year as perhaps the hottest golfer on the planet. After some early success, Johnson's fortunes turned for the worse. His game needs some work, but a return to Sawgrass might be just what the doctor ordered. Johnson has carded four consecutive top-25s here, and a fifth is likely in the cards.

Adam Scott

It's hard to believe it was 10 years ago that Scott hung on for dear life here and captured what was at the time the biggest victory of his career. Scott has recorded four top-20s since his win here in 2004, and another top-10 looks to be in the cards this week.

Sergio Garcia

Garcia's has never been considered a model of consistency, but at TPC Sawgrass he's actually been pretty reliable. Garcia picked up a huge victory here in 2008, but he has also recorded a runner-up finish and four additional top-25s in the last 10 years.

Players to Avoid:

Nick Watney

It doesn't seem fair to keep picking on Watney, but he continues to underperform, so he'll stay on this list at least one more week. Last week it was a MC at the Wells Fargo Championship; this week it will likely be a MC at The Players.

Justin Rose

Rose has played some quality golf the last couple months, but for some reason, he's generally struggled on this track. Rose has cracked the top-50 here just twice in his last nine tries at The Players.

Charles Howell III

It is well known that the time to use Howell III is early in the season, and although we're still in the first half of the season, this is not a good place to use Howell III. Howell III finished T66 last year, and that was actually an improvement on his six previous starts here.

Ernie Els

Els is really struggling, and a trip to the TPC Sawgrass isn't going to help. Els has missed the cut here four years running. That number will grow to five after Friday's round.

Robert Garrigus

The year was 2011 and Robert Garrigus made the cut at The Players Championship. This concludes the Garrigus highlight reel at The Players Championship. Garrigus has made the cut here just once and has missed the cut the other four times he's played.


Last week:
Rickie Fowler (T38) - $29,980; Season - $2,646,264

This week:
Matt Kuchar - The perfect spot for Kuchar as he does not top the list during the majors but is more than capable of winning in this spot. Heck, he's done it before, and he won just a couple weeks ago.


Rank: 18,708

This Week:

Group A:
Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott

Group B:
Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Martin Laird

Group C:
Sergio Garcia, Jimmy Walker


Last week:
Bo Van Pelt; Streak - 0

This week:
Matt Kuchar - After yet another missed cut on a somewhat risky pick, I've decided to double-up and just go with one of the better picks this week. Kuchar has proven to be one of the most reliable players on the PGA Tour, and there's no reason to suspect he'll miss the cut this week.

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