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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My 5 for THE PLAYERS

Ah yes, it's time once again for me to peer into my crystal ball... and prove I can't see a damn thing. Where'd I put that polishing cloth?

The 1st hole at TPC Sawgrass

This week the PGA Tour visits TPC Sawgrass for THE PLAYERS. Whether you think it's "the 5th major" or not, the fact remains that it probably boasts the strongest field of any event all year. And TPC Sawgrass is one of those rare courses where accuracy actually matters, where the winner won't necessarily be the guy who can hit it the farthest.

That makes picking 5 potential winners difficult because this tournament allows more players to have a chance. But it's even tougher this year; Tiger and Jason Day are out with injuries and Miguel Angel Jimenez is out with a honeymoon. Besides that, few of the top players have distinguished themselves from the field; only Matt Kuchar has managed a win among the rest of the favorites. (And it took him 4 attempts to get that one!)

Nevertheless, I shall attempt to pull a rabbit out of my hat and come up with some feasible contenders.
  1. Jim Furyk: After a reasonably strong start to the year and that flashy runner-up at Quail Hollow this past week, I think Jim has to be the favorite. This is a course that fits his game, and I'm surprised he's never won it... but that could change this week.
  2. Matt Kuchar: While Kuch is coming off a win, he's not my favorite simply because he's had a chance to "cool down" and may be a bit tired from too much celebrating. However, he won this thing back in 2012 so it's clear he can get it done.
  3. Jordan Spieth: After letting the Masters get away, he wants this one. If any first-timer can get it done, Spieth's the one.
  4. Sergio Garcia: He's been playing well and he's a past champion as well, back in 2008. If his girlfriend shows up on his bag, my expectations will be even higher!
  5. Steve Stricker: This is my flier pick. The family's medical problems caused Stricker to start his year later than expected (only 4 starts in 2014), but he's been making cuts and he's had three weeks off to practice. I look for good things from him.
I heard that Mickelson figured out his putting problem Monday, and I know that Luke Donald is coming off a runner-up at Harbour Town. Still, these two haven't shown me any consistency yet so I'm wary of picking them this week. After all, accuracy still means something at THE PLAYERS.

Which means, knowing how this year has gone so far, that Jonas Blixt -- ranked 166 in Driving Accuracy -- will probably miss half the fairways and still win the thing.

Expect some surprises this week. We always get some at THE PLAYERS.

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