Ranking the favorites, contenders and hopefuls

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH (Fla.) — One year ago. Cameron SmithHe won the first ever mens gold medal in golf when he one-putted the last nine holes. Play the Players on a Monday.

Smith earned $3.6million after surviving rainy or windy conditions. He won in front his sister and mother, who he hadn’t seen in over two years due to travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith will not be able defend his title this week at TPC Sawgrass after he defected to LIV Golf League. The Saudi Arabian-funded rival circuit is where the top three finishers and five out of the top twelve from 2022 will be playing. They wont be playing this week. Indias Anirban LahiriEnglands second place finish Paul CaseyThis was the third year in a row. Harold Varner IIISixth and tied Dustin JohnsonTenth.

Who can win the PGA Tours flagship tournament and the fifth major ?

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Guys who are able to win | If everything goes as planned
Miracles happen | Happy to make the cut

Tier I: The men who can win

Here are the players who have the potential to win the Players. They have the nerves, skills, and guts to handle four pressure-packed rounds.

Rory McIlroy
McIroy won 2019 Players and has also been a top-10 player in 13 of his previous starts. McIroys win at the Players would be an endorsement from the tour.

Jon Rahm
The world No. 1 golfer is still a great player. He has been a great world No. 1 golfer, but he hasn’t been great at TPC sawgrass (or in Florida). But it might not matter. A final-round 77 put him in a tie for 55th place last year. In five starts, he has only one top-10.

Justin Thomas
JT captured the Players 2021 when he went 12 under on the weekend of defeat Lee WestwoodBy a stroke. His form is improving after a slow start to 2023. If he can master his putter, he will be in contention.

Will Zalatoris
Zalatoris back injury at the end 2022 has not hindered his performance. Zalatoris is one of the best players in the majors and should be able to play in the next-best event.

Scottie Scheffler
Scheffler, like Rahm, hasnt quite figured the Stadium Course. He tied for 55th in 2021, missing the cut. He shot 4-under 68 in round three, but it was sandwiched with a pair of 76s.

Max Homa
Homa won this season twice and was second at Genesis, 2 shots behind Rahm. After missing the cut for 2021, he finished 13th at Players.

Viktor Hovland
Hovland was able to dial in his irons at Bay Hill, which is a good indicator. He tied for ninth and was 7 under through the final two round.

Xander Schauffele
After tying to second behind Webb SimpsonSchauffele missed the cut in 2018 in all three of his starts here (the event was canceled in 2020 after the first round due to COVID-19). He is too good to not turn it around.

Collin Morikawa
TPC Sawgrass has also confused another great player. The two-time major champs best finish was a tie at 41st in 2021. The guy still shows up for big events and this one is no exception. He ranks third on tour in driving accuracy, which is important at Sawgrass.

Matt Fitzpatrick
The U.S. Open champion tied for ninth at Sawgrass 2021, but he missed the cut due to windy conditions last year. The Englishman was recovering from a neck injury, and seems to be readjusting.

Keegan Bradley
Bradley, 36, has been playing some of his best golf and is a great example of a new commitment to fitness. He won the Zozo Champion and finished second at Farmers Insurance Open. He finished fifth in the Players final year.

Sam Burns
The four-time PGA Tour winner was in the mix last year, until a final-round 76 wiped him out of contention. Burns is ready to bag a big one, just like Homa and Schauffele.

The stars are here @THEPLAYERSChamp 🤩

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 6, 2023

Tony Finau
Finau has missed out on the cut in four of six previous Players starts. Finau has won three of his six previous starts at the Players and is capable to put together four solid rounds.

Jordan Spieth
After finishing fourth in 2014, Spieth has not finished in the top 40 in seven of his seven starts. Although the place doesnt suit his eye, he played well at Arnold Palmer Invitational before his putter let it down late.

Patrick Cantlay
He finished solo third against a stellar field of competitors at the Genesis. He was not able to make the cut in his three previous starts at TPC Sawgrass, and he had only one round below par in six of his six.

Sungjae Im
After his struggles at the Genesis Classic and Honda Classic consecutively, the API was a better platform for the South Korean player. He was 17th in the 2021 Players.

Cameron Young
It is only a matter time before the reigning PGA Tour rookie champion wins his first win. He finished second at the Saudi International, but he hadnt played much on tour since a tie for 10th at API. He did not make it to the 2022 Players debut.

Tier II: If all goes well

These are the top players who could win the Players. This tier includes some former major champions as well as a few players who made comebacks in this season.

Shane Lowry
The 2019 Open Championship winner thrives in difficult conditions and on challenging courses. He has a back-toback finish in the top 15 at Players.

Tom Kim
Kim may be the exception. Players making their first starts at TPC Sawgrass are known to struggle. Although he doesnt drive the ball as far as McIlroy or others, he is accurate off the tee which will be a major advantage this week.

Tommy Fleetwood
Although he is still looking for his first PGA Tour win, Fleetwoods game has been showing signs of life this season. He has two top-10s from five starts at Players.

Keith Mitchell
Mitchell has enjoyed stretches of excellent golf since November. He is the tours leader in total driving, and he is also very accurate off the fairway. He finished 13th at the Players.

Tyrrell Hatton
The Englishman is a good enough player to be a contender. He finished 13th in the Players last year, which was his best finish. He had another solid showing at Bay Hill.

Kurt Kitayama
Kitayama faced numerous challenges from the best players on the tour, including Scheffler, Cantlay, McIlroy and Spieth. He didnt blink to win his first PGA Tour win at the API. He is talented enough to do it again. He jumped from No. He rose from No. 46 to Number 19. 19 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Hideki Yamayama
The 2021 Masters champion has an excellent track record at Stadium Course with five top-25s in each of his seven previous starts. Concerns are raised by his recent form (consecutive missed cuts and an ailing neck).

Harris English
English was one of the most talented players in the world, before a hip injury forced him to miss a lot of 2022. After finishing 12th in Genesis and second in API, hes back. He jumped 40 positions to No. After his latest start, he jumped 40 spots to No. 39 in the world.

Rickie Fowler
With his new swing, the 2015 Players winner appears to be making progress. Fowler is now at the top of the rankings in nine starts this year, one more than he was in 60 starts in his three previous seasons.

Russell Henley
The four-time winner of the PGA Tour is second in driving distance. However, his game has been inconsistent this season. He was tied for 13th at last years Players.

Sepp Straka
Straka scored a final round 67 to tie for ninth at Players 2022. He was below par in three rounds of four in difficult conditions.

Chris Kirk
Kirk has been hot since 2023, and he ended nearly eight years of drought with a playoff win at the Honda Classic.

Sahith Theegala
Theegala already holds five top-10s in 12 starts this year. He missed the cut in his first Players start and his inconsistency off of the tee may be a concern.

Tom Hoge
Hoge was third at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He wont be intimidated if there is a strong field. In his previous three Stadium Course starts, Hoge was 33rd (or better)

Time for the first round of tee shots @THEPLAYERSChamp 🍿

7:34 a.m. ET
T. Kim

7:45 a.m. ET

7:56 a.m. ET

12:34 p.m. ET

12:45 p.m. ET

12:56 p.m. ET

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 6, 2023

Billy Horschel
Horschel hasnt been in great form lately, but he is efficient off the tee. Due to illness last year, he pulled out of the third round.

Seamus Power
Shame on all of us for failing to recognize the Irishman who won Octobers Bermuda Championship. He placed 35th or better in both of his first two starts at TPC Sawgrass.

Jason Day
The Australian is finally feeling better and has five top-10s in 11 starts this year. The 2016 Players Championship winner was one of nine players to score a 9 under 63 in this event.

Corey Conners
Conners from Canada has five top-25s in eight tours this season. He is a bit erratic off the tee, and his putting hasn’t been great, but he still does it.

Justin Rose
The Englishman returned to the winners circle with a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He has five top-25s from 17 starts at Players.

Brian Harman
Harman missed the cut in three out of his four previous starts, but he has three top-10s at Players, including a tie in 2021.

Si Woo Kim
The 2017 Players Championship winner won his fourth tour win at the Sony Open in Hawaii in Jan.

Davis Riley
Riley broke free of a funk, three missed cuts after another, to tie for 29th at Honda Classic and eighth at API. This will be his first appearance at the Players.

Ryan Fox
Fox, a New Zealander, won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews last season and has climbed up to No. 32 in the world. He tied for 14th at Bay Hill.

Mackenzie Hughes
Hughes won the Sanderson Farms Challenge, his second PGA Tour title. In his two previous starts at TPC Sawgrass, Hughes missed the cut.

Alex Noren
Noren has done a lot of his best work on the DP World Tour. He tied for second at both the Alfred Dunhill Links Championships and DP World Tour Championships, and was fifth in Abu Dhabi.

Adam Scott
Scott hasn’t done much this season, however his Players results have been good with 10 top-25s from 20 previous starts. He won the event in 2004 almost 20 years ago.

Joel Dahmen
Dahmen is a man who can be quite self-deprecating. He has five top-25s in eleven starts this season.

Adam Hadwin
The Canadian is able to hit 63% of fairways and has an excellent all-round game. This is why he was ranked ninth at the Players in 2022.

Gary Woodland
The 2019 U.S. Open champion saw some progress with a tie for 9th at the Genesis.

Aaron Wise
Wise has had a solid 2023 campaign despite missing the cut in three of his four previous tours. The former Oregon star is now No. 46 in the world.

Taylor Montgomery
UNLVs UNLV rookie started his maiden year hot, with eight top-15 finishes in nine of his nine starts. Since then, he has started to cool down.

Taylor Pendrith
The Canadian player who represented the International team at Presidents Cup finished 13th at the 2022 Players.

J.T. Poston
Poston has been inconsistent so far in 2023. However, he has two top-25 finishes at Sawgrass.

Kevin Kisner
Kisner has been having trouble with a swing change, and his putter has been less than stellar. He finished fourth on the Stadium Course last year and earned close to $1,000,000

Tier III: Hey, miracles happen

They are the long shots. For someone to win at this tier, everything must be perfect over 72 holes in just four days.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout
Hayden Buckley
Wyndham Clark
Thomas Detry
Nico Echavarria
Doug Ghim
Ben Griffin
Lucas Herbert
Patton Kizzire
Russell Knox
Matt Kuchar
K.H. Lee
Min Woo Lee
Denny McCarthy
Maverick McNealy

Francesco Molinari
Taylor Moore
Trey Mullinax
Andrew Putnam
Sam Ryder
J.J. Spaun
Scott Stallings
Kevin Streelman
Justin Suh
Adam Svensson
Nick Taylor
Davis Thompson
Brendon Todd
Jhonattan Vegas
Danny Willett
Brandon Wu

Tier IV: Happy to make it!

They wont be considered for the top spot unless something truly miraculous happens.

Tyson Alexander
Byeong Hun An
Ryan Armour
Aaron Baddeley
Erik Barnes
Joseph Bramlett
Ryan Brehm
Stewart Cink
Eric Cole
Cam Davis
Thomas Detry
Tyler Duncan
Harrison Endycott
Dylan Frittelli
Lucas Glover
Will Gordon
Lanto Griffin
Emiliano Grillo
Chesson Hadley
James Hahn
Nick Hardy
Kramer Hickok
Garrick Higgo
Lee Hodges
Beau Hossler
Mark Hubbard
Stephan Jaeger
Jerry Kelly
S.H. Kim

Kelly Kraft
Martin Laird
Nate Lashley
David Lingmerth
David Lipsky
Luke List
Adam Long
Justin Lower
Peter Malnati
Ben Martin
Max McGreevy
Troy Merritt
Matthew NeSmith
Andrew Novak
Ryan Palmer
Scott Piercy
Aaron Rai
Chad Ramey
Chez Reavie
Doc Redman
Patrick Rodgers
Adam Schenk
Matthias Schwab
Robby Shelton
Greyson Sigg
Webb Simpson
Alex Smalley
Austin Smotherman
Robert Streb
Callum Tarren
Michael Thompson
Kevin Tway
Matt Wallace
Nick Watney
Dylan Wu

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