Known by some as the 5th Major, THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass is one of the best and most popular events on the PGA TOUR schedule each year. As such, it’s an event that’s drawn plenty of interest from not only the weekly golf obsessives like me, but also the casual sports fans. If you’ve found yourself new to golf, or have been invited to compete in PLAYERS Championship pools, check out the below strategy guide to walk your through your golf pool picks.
Golf Pool Strategy
Similar to a Daily Fantasy tournament strategy, game theory is key in PLAYERS Championship Pools. It’s best to first understand who the popular players in each tier are going to be, then decide which ones you want to double down on and which ones you’re comfortable fading for a more contrarian option to differentiate your lineup. Below, we’ll go through the consensus Popular and Pivot plays in each tier, noting that different pools formats may offer varying player tiers.
- Additional PLAYERS Championship betting coverage: John’s golf bets for this week
Tier 1: Top 1-8 Players
The Popular Play: Jon Rahm
Most people won’t overthink this one. If you can pick one player in the top-8, naturally you’ll want to side with the best player in the world, Jon Rahm, who has a pair of top-15s at this event over the last three years and five wins over his last five worldwide starts.
The Pivot Play: Collin Morikawa
If you want to get super contrarian, Morikawa’s iron play is the best of any other player in this group, a premium skillset to have on a course that rewards precision at the level that TPC Sawgrass does.
Tier 2: Top 9-25 Players
The Popular Play: Jason Day
The casual pool player may side with a more recognizable name like Jordan Spieth or Will Zalatoris, but the right play is Jason Day. Day is past winner here back in 2016 and looks to be in vintage form with four consecutive top-10 finishes leading in.
The Pivot Play: Tom Kim
The 20-year-old South Korean phenom is not a household name yet, and his lack of prior experience may give pool players cold feet, but he’s already won twice on short PGA TOUR courses within the last 6 months, and possesses the perfect skillsets to thrive at TPC Sawgrass.
Tier 3: Top 26-50 Players
The Popular Play: Keegan Bradley
Finishing top-10 at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational and top-5 at last year’s PLAYERS Championship, Keegan is the sensible play from both a recent form and course history standpoint. More casual pool players may gravitate to Rickie Fowler in this spot, but Keegan is the best option in my eyes here.
The Pivot Play: Seamus Power
I like a little consistency when we get below the mid-tier in pool formats. Power’s not a star, but he’s been steady this season, making it through the cut in 11 of his first 12 starts of 2023. He’s finished top-35 in his first two PLAYERS appearances and is in better form now than ever before.
Tier 4: Top 51-75 Players
The Popular Play: Sepp Straka
There’s not a standout popular play in this range, but Straka would seem to be the natural choice for most, as he ranks No. 31 in OWGR and is coming off of a T9 finish at THE PLAYERS last year.
The Pivot Play: Thomas Detry
Like Power, Detry brings consistency in a volatile range, finishing top-40 in seven consecutive PGA TOUR events. This will be his PLAYERS debut, so he’s expected to go overlooked in pools despite the encouraging recent form.
Tier 5: Top 76+ Players
The Popular Play: Webb Simpson
Simpson is a recognizable name, a former PLAYERS champion, Ryder Cup team member, and U.S. Open champion. Coming off of a T24 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he’ll command some ownership, but is not a player I’m looking to select in my pools, given the shaky longer term form.
The Pivot Play: Ben Griffin
Anyone who follows the PGA TOUR on a week to week basis knows this PGA TOUR rookie. He’s had his best results on short Bermuda courses like TPC Sawgrass, so although this will be his debut, all signs thus far have pointed towards another top-30 push this week.
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