The PLAYERS: SB Nation’s Playing Through staff predicts winners

The marquee event on the PGA Tour returns to TPC Sawgrass, the home of The PLAYERS Championship.

Last year, Scottie Scheffler ran away with the title, shooting a 7-under 65 on Saturday and a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win by five shots over Tyrrell Hatton.

Of course, Scheffler won last week at Bay Hill. His triumph at the Arnold Palmer Invitational marked his first victory since The PLAYERS a season ago and his seventh career PGA Tour victory overall.

But no player has ever repeated at TPC Sawgrass, which speaks to the unpredictable nature of this course. Water comes into play on almost every hole, trouble lurks everywhere, and an array of shot shapes is required to win.

With that in mind, let us get to our staff picks:

PGA Tour, The PLAYERS Championship, TPC Sawgrass

The 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kendall Capps – Senior Editor

I am back on the Justin Thomas train.

Picking against Scottie Scheffler after what he did last week—and last year on this course—might be childish.

However, I am not entirely convinced that his putting woes have subsided.

Meanwhile, Thomas has quietly played excellent golf since last year’s Ryder Cup. Outside of missing the cut at the Genesis Invitational, Thomas has tied for third, sixth, 12th, and 12th so far in 2024.

He has made a birdie or better 29% of the time this season, ranking fourth on the PGA Tour in that metric. If you can put yourself in position at TPC Sawgrass, birdie opportunities present themselves, and luckily for Thomas, he has done just that so far this season.

Thomas is eighth on tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green in 2024, and barring a tough back nine last week at Bay Hill, he could have put more pressure on Scheffler.

Alas, Thomas has never missed the cut at TPC Sawgrass. He has also won here before—in 2021—and will do so again this week.

Justin Thomas, PGA Tour, The PLAYERS Championship

Justin Thomas celebrates his victory at The PLAYERS Championship in 2021.
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Jack Milko – Staff Writer

With the final round of The PLAYERS Championship falling on Selection Sunday, I feel obligated to use an NCAA Tournament term to make my pick.

I am going all chalk.

Scottie Scheffler is playing in a league of his own, and I cannot pick against him.

He leads the tour in scoring average, strokes gained overall, and strokes gained off the tee. He has hit 78% of his greens in regulation, also ranking at the top of the PGA Tour.

His recent play resembles prime Tiger Woods, and Scheffler will achieve something that not even Woods has done this week: repeat at TPC Sawgrass.

Last year, Scheffler gained a preposterous 17.274 total strokes, with only 0.107 of those coming on the greens. He played with a blade putter then, and Scheffler is currently one-for-one with his new mallet putter.

The 2022 Masters champion gained 4.347 strokes on the greens last week, ranking 5th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

With his superior play tee-to-green, it is no surprise that he won convincingly.

As such, I like his hot putter to continue flexing its muscles at TPC Sawgrass, where Scheffler will become the first player to win back-to-back PLAYERS Championships.

Scottie Scheffler, PGA Tour, The PLAYERS Championship

The head on Scottie Scheffler’s new mallet putter.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Savannah Leigh Richardson – Staff Writer

Like Jack, my pick this week is also Scottie Scheffler.

I think Scheffler goes back-to-back at TPC Sawgrass, entering himself into his own sphere among PGA Tour legends.

Now that he has gotten a hot putter, it could get ugly for the rest of the field.

“I found a putter that I line up very well,” Scheffler explained Tuesday.

“I wasn’t using it as trying to hit it perfectly each time or using it in anything else other than to try and help myself line up.”

Scheffler also removed the line from his ball ahead of last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, which also paid dividends.

“It’s a lot easier to say, ‘Hey, it doesn’t really matter if you miss or make it, but at the end of the day, it matters a heck of a lot to me whether that putt goes in or not,’” Scheffler added.

“But it’s about sticking to my process and controlling what I can control. That’s having a good attitude and hitting a good putt, and not using the line has helped a lot in that.”

Scottie Scheffler, PGA Tour, The PLAYERS Championship

Scottie Scheffler after winning the 2023 PLAYERS Championship.
Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA Tour via Getty Images

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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