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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering The Players Champioship

Jeremy Schilling

Schilling covers golf for RotoWire, focusing on young and up-and-coming players. He was a finalist for the FSWA's Golf Writer of the Year award. He also contributes to PGA Magazine and hosts the popular podcast "Teeing It Up" on BlogTalkRadio.

This week the PGA Tour descends on Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for The Players - the unofficial fifth major and the tournament that always seems to bring out the best, and worst, in players.

Here's our stats preview:

History Lesson

Tiger Woods is the defending champion but will not participate after his recent back surgery. He beat David Lingmerth, Jeff Maggert and Kevin Streelman by two. In 2012, Matt Kuchar beat Ben Curtis, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson and Martin Laird by two. And in 2011, K.J. Choi defeated David Toms in a playoff.

I absolutely love Kuchar this week. He finally got the victory at Hilton Head, has been contending all spring, and is a former champion here at TPC Sawgrass. He leads the PGA Tour in scoring average at 69.493.

Strokes Gained-Putting

The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass' greens have had some issues, with three greens - four, 11 and 12 - closed Monday. As a result, putting will be even more paramount this week as players who roll the ball best will have the best shot on inconsistent greens.

Here are the best putters on the PGA Tour in the field this week:

1. Matt Every - 1.055
2. Graeme McDowell - 1.054
3. Freddie Jacobson - .994
4. Greg Chalmers - .967
5. Jimmy Walker - .958

Of that group we recommend McDowell and Walker. Walker obviously has the three wins this season and McDowell already has five top-10s in eight starts so far this year. In addition to being second in strokes gained-putting, he's also 30th in greens in regulation and 15th in driving accuracy. And that brings us too ...

Driving Accuracy

Hitting it in the fairway - and in the correct part of the fairway - is a must at the Stadium Course. Here are the leaders in the driving accuracy who are in the field this week:

3. Tim Clark - 74.42 percent
7. Zach Johnson - 72.14
8. Justin Hicks - 71.89
9. Boo Weekley - 71.14
10. Francesco Molinari - 70.36

Of this group we recommend Johnson, who is always steady in tough conditions and won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions earlier this year, and Molinari, who has very quietly had a strong start to his season. In six PGA Tour starts he has one top-10 and three top-25 finishes - the top-10 is a T5 at Bay Hill. He also ranks eighth in scrambling, a good trait to have going your way this week.

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