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Golf Glance: Can Justin Thomas become first to repeat at The Players?

Golf Glance: Can Justin Thomas become first to repeat at The Players?

Field Level Media’s Golf Glance provides weekly news and storylines from each of the major North American golf tours.

TOUR

LAST TOURNAMENT
Arnold Palmer Invitational (Scottie Scheffler)

THIS WEEK
The Players Championship, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., March 10-13

Course
TPC Sawgrass, Stadium Course (Par 72, 7,256 yards)

Purse
$20M (Winner: $3.6M)

Defending Champion
Justin Thomas

FedExCup Leader
Scottie Scheffler

HOW TO FOLLOW

TV:
Thursday-Friday, 12-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (NBC).
PGA Tour Live: Four live feeds per day on ESPN+

Social Media
@ThePlayersChamp (Twitter)

NOTES
Often referred to as the “fifth major,” The Players is the first of five events on the PGA Tour schedule, along with the four majors, to offer 600 FedExCup points to the winner. … If there is a playoff, it will be a three-hole aggregate format played on hole Nos. 16-18. If necessary, it would be followed by sudden death (17-18-17). … World #12 Bryson DeChambeau withdrew as he continues to recover from a wrist injury. #19 Harris English (injury) is the only other top-25 player not in the field. The only other players who qualified who are not playing this week are Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods. … Woods (2013) is the only player in the FedExCup era to enter The Players atop the standings and go on to victory at TPC Sawgrass. … The best result by a defending champion at The Players was a T5, accomplished three times. In the past six Players, Webb Simpson in 2019 is the only defending champion to finish within the top 50. … Thirty-four players in this week’s field, including reigning Korn Ferry Tour player of the year Stephan Jaeger, have yet to win on the PGA Tour. Only Craig Perks (2002) and Tim Clark (2010) have made The Players their maiden win on tour. … Adam Hadwin and Chez Reavie, both in this week’s field, have hit the famous 17th green in all 20 of their respective career rounds at TPC Sawgrass. Paul Casey leads this week’s field with the most career balls in the water at 17, with nine.

BEST BETS
Thomas (+1000 at DraftKings) won last year despite ranking 32nd in the field in driving accuracy, but he averaged only 28 putts per round. … Jon Rahm (+1000) is ranked #1 for the 34th consecutive week. The last world #1 to win The Players was Jason Day in 2016. He leads the tour in strokes gained off the tee and tee-to-green. … Rory McIlroy (+1600) won the event in 2019 and has four top-10s in 11 previous starts. … Collin Morikawa (+1600) is second on tour in greens in regulation and is fourth in strokes gained putting. He tied for the low round of the day with a 66 on Sunday last year. … Scheffler (+2000) is attempting to become the fourth player to win the Players after winning the previous week. He has two wins in his past three starts but missed the cut at The Players last year. … Patrick Cantlay (+2000) snapped a streak of six consecutive top-10s in his last start at the Genesis. … Viktor Hovland (+2200) also missed the cut in his event debut last year. He’s coming off a T2 last week and has three wins among six top-four finishes in his past eight worldwide starts. … Hideki Matsuyama (+2500) is the only other two-time winner on tour this year. He also missed the cut last year but tied the TPC Sawgrass scoring record with an opening 9-under 63 in 2020 before the rest of the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19. … Talor Gooch (+6500) faded to a T7 with a 77 on Sunday at Bay Hill but already has a win this season and finished T5 last year.

NEXT TOURNAMENT
Valspar Championship, Palm Harbor, Fla., March 17-20

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