The Players Championship 2021: Course and current form stats for the 'Fifth Major'

The final hole at TPC Sawgrass
The tricky par-four 18th at TPC Sawgrass

The Players Championship at the iconic TPC Sawgrass is one of the highlights of the PGA calendar. Andy Swales has delved into the stats to help you pick your bets...

"Switching back to March meant conditions favoured the bigger hitters, and McIlroy truly obliged. Suddenly there was less run on the fairways, and the ball didn't travel as far through the colder air."

Week three of the Florida Swing brings the golfers to Sawgrass for arguably the fifth most important tournament on the PGA Tour schedule.

Twelve months ago, The Players Championship was curtailed in mid-flight when officials informed Hideki Matsuyama that his course-record equalling 63 would could for nothing.

At the end of round one in 2020, the PGA Tour took the difficult decision to abandon the event in the face of the escalating Covid crisis which was starting to engulf countries in the 'West'.

All of which means, the 2019 winner Rory McIlroy will arrive in Ponte Vedra this week as the defending champion.

Unfortunately for McIlroy, no reigning champion has ever successfully defended this title although, with last year's event being cut short, perhaps this particular hoodoo will not apply this week.

The best finish by a reigning champion is fifth - most recently achieved in 2001 - while the last winner to post a top-10 on his return to Sawgrass was Adam Scott 16 years ago.

TPC Sawgrass certainly likes to share the honours around, with just four winners claiming a second Players Championship title in its 39 years.

Check out the latest betting ahead of this week's Players Championship

No one has triumphed three times since the event moved to Sawgrass although Tiger Woods did win the US Amateur Championship over the Stadium Course when it was held here in 1994.

Date change

In 2019, the tournament returned to March - after 12 years being staged in May.

To accommodate the new date, and take into account changing weather conditions, organisers decided to overseed the greens, tees, fairways and rough.

According to Jeff Plotts, who is the director of golf course operations at TPC Sawgrass, "overseeding the golf course will help produce the best playing surfaces possible.

"Divots and ball marks will recover quicker, and rye grass will handle foot traffic better than Bermuda grass on its own."

Switching back to March meant conditions favoured the bigger hitters, and McIlroy truly obliged.

Suddenly there was less run on the fairways, and the ball didn't travel as far through the colder air. However, on the plus side, the softer putting surfaces became a lot more receptive to approach shots.

On the tee

As to be expected for a tournament of this stature, 48 of the leading 50 players are teeing-up on Thursday: The exceptions being the injured Brooks Koepka and Matthew Wolff.

Tournament favourite and world No 1 Dustin Johnson struggled during his early visits to Sawgrass but has posted a trio of top-20s since the start of 2017.

This included a first ever top-10 in 2019, when the event returned to its March date.

McIlroy, while not playing badly (only once outside the top-25 in his last 12 starts) is certainly struggling to put four good rounds together.

One player who does seem well placed to take advantage of the March conditions is the long driving Jon Rahm.

The Spaniard tied-12th at Sawgrass two years ago and the 26-year-old is certainly one of the world's most consistent pros. He hasn't reached No 2 by accident.

Check out the latest betting ahead of April's US Masters

And if you're looking to back someone outside of the world's elite in this incredibly strong field, with regards to posting a top-three, top-five or perhaps a surprise victory, then what about rising star Will Zalatoris?

The world No 46's dramatic rise up the Ranking continued with a top-10 at Bay Hill on Sunday.

He's no slouch off the tee and, at 24, he appears to be fearless. The one negative is that he will be making his Sawgrass debut.

Course history

Opened in 1980, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is laid out among the north Florida swamps and is a layout which demands accuracy from tee-to-green.

It's putting surfaces are smaller than the Tour average, along with narrower than normal fairways.

In 2016, the course underwent a revamp with the aim of increasing the number of times water came into play during a round.

Water and sand are a constant threat and, according to the PGA Tour: "Short grass was added around some greens to promote creativity, while several greens were expanded to add new hole locations."

Laid out around 12 miles south-east of Jacksonville city centre, and one mile from the Atlantic Ocean, the Stadium Course made its PGA Tour debut in 1982.

When Tour commissioner Deane Beman purchased the land for this course during the mid-to-late 1970s, he instructed Pete Dye to build a course that would not suit any one type of player.

Yet recent stats, at least, favour those who hit plenty of Greens in Regulation.

In 2019, five of the leading 11 players in this particular category finished inside the top 10, with another three from this group earning a top-25 finish. These included the champion Rory McIlroy.

The 2018 winner Webb Simpson enjoyed the fifth best GiR for the week, while also topping the Driving Accuracy stats.

The data was even more pronounced in 2017, when nine of the best 16 GiR figures belonged to players who were among the top-12 finishers, while only three of this 16 finished outside the top 25.

And the story goes on. Five years ago, six of the leading seven GiR performers finished inside the top 20.

Course Comparisons (1.1.16 - 31.12.20)


Driving Accuracy (%)
73.88: Sea Island (RSM Classic) (1/29)
63.62: TPC Sawgrass (Players Ch`ship) (11/29)
52.24: Torrey Pines (Farmers Insurance) (29/29)

Greens in Regulation (%)
75.98: Sedgefield (Wyndham) (1/29)
66.95: TPC Sawgrass (Players Ch`ship) (16/29)
58.99: Innisbrook (Valspar) (29/29)

Putting (GiR)
1.664: PGA West (host) (American Express) (1/29)
1.753: TPC Sawgrass (Players Ch`ship) (16/29)
2.668: Augusta National (Masters) (29/29)

Key: Above stats are for all 29 courses which staged four or more PGA Tour events between January 1st, 2016 and December 31st, 2020. To qualify for a ranking (between 1 & 29), tournaments must have a minimum of 50 players competing over the final two rounds of the event. Averages do not include players who failed to complete at least 54 holes.

TPC Sawgrass Data (2016-20)
DA: (T10 - 65.69%); (Cat10 - 74.87%)
GiR: (T10 - 70.21%); (Cat10 - 75.41%)
Putts: (T10 - 1.691); (Cat10 - 1.635)
Key: T10 (Average for Top-10 finishers); Cat10 (Average for Top-10 in Category)

Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive

MC* - Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut

Note: List Contains Leading Reserves

Last 10 Weeks / TPC Sawgrass Form (2010-19)

Position

  • 1–5
  • 6–15
  • 16–25
Player W10 W9 W8 W7 W6 W5 W4 W3 W2 W1
Dustin Johnson 54 8 1 11
Jon Rahm 32 5 13 7 7
Justin Thomas 15 MC 13 MC 3
Collin Morikawa 1 43 68 7 7
Xander Schauffele 39 15 2 2 5
Bryson DeChambeau 1 22 MC 18 7
Tyrrell Hatton 21 22 6 22 1
Patrick Cantlay 15 3 2 13
Rory McIlroy 10 6 MC 13 16 3
Patrick Reed MC 9 66 1 MC 21
Webb Simpson 6 42 4 17
Viktor Hovland 49 2 5 6 2 31
Tony Finau 14 2 2 2 4 31
Daniel Berger 35 1 MC 7 10
Matthew Fitzpatrick 10 11 5 17 MC
Sung Jae Im 21 28 17 32 12 56 5
Paul Casey 10 5 12 1 8
Harris English 26 66 MC MC 32 1
Tommy Fleetwood 10 44 26 17 7
Louis Oosthuizen 6 11 29
Hideki Matsuyama 18 15 MC 42 53 19 41
Adam Scott 54 38 10 41 21
Kevin Na 43 11 38 21 MC 1 38
Cameron Smith 11 4 MC 62 24
Ryan Palmer 54 42 2 41 4
Abraham Ancer 18 MC 53 5 MC 17
Joaquin Niemann 28 43 2 2
Scottie Scheffler 5 20 7 MC MC 13
Lee Westwood 2 61 50 17 62
Jason Kokrak 8 9 32 41 29 56 35
Billy Horschel MC 2 53 MC 7 24
Victor Perez 68 52 4 MC 46
Kevin Kisner 36 41 32 24
Marc Leishman MC 39 32 18 4 24
Justin Rose Wd 54 2 35 57
Christiaan Bezuidenhout 7 32 53 22 12
Max Homa 10 22 1 7 42 18 21
Shane Lowry MC 48 29 27 MC
Sergio Garcia 32 MC 12 6 47 11
Bernd Wiesberger 31 59 53 6 25
Robert MacIntyre 36 61 29 3 16
Carlos Ortiz 15 MC 4 29 14 37
Corey Conners 3 MC 17 37
Gary Woodland 43 MC MC 48 16
Jason Day 31 18 7 MC MC
Will Zalatoris 10 22 15 55 17 7
Brendon Todd 57 18 MC 22 41 13
Matt Kuchar 44 MC 42 MC
Lanto Griffin 21 22 26 7 MC 41 13
Mackenzie Hughes 44 32 MC 19 41
Si Woo Kim Wd MC MC 50 MC 1 25
Bubba Watson 54 MC 22 MC
Russell Henley 38 30 MC 11
Kevin Streelman 52 13 22 37 MC
Sebastian Munoz 49 22 43 MC 65 17
Ian Poulter 26 35 18 MC MC
Jordan Spieth 4 15 3 4 MC
Adam Long MC MC MC MC 69
Rickie Fowler 72 20 MC MC 53 21
JT Poston MC 43 11 18 MC MC
Dylan Frittelli MC MC MC 53
Chez Reavie 49 MC 16 MC MC 67
Joel Dahmen MC MC 60 MC MC MC
Danny Willett 31 63 44 16
Cameron Champ MC 48 MC MC MC 31
Sam Burns MC 3 39 22 18 MC
Matt Jones MC 8 34 30 48 21 11
Byeong Hun An 43 35 53 75 8
Branden Grace 26 1 20 34 MC
Talor Gooch 43 12 MC 48 21 MC
Tom Lewis MC 14 MC 42 MC
Henrik Stenson MC MC MC 46
Brendan Steele 18 43 34 30 21 4
Adam Hadwin MC 26 50 18 32
Francesco Molinari MC 8 59 10 8
Cameron Tringale 31 26 7 17 18 56
Martin Laird 43 MC MC MC 47 17
Brian Harman 43 39 36 8 56
Alexander Noren 49 12 MC 37 40
Phil Mickelson MC 53 53 MC
Henrik Norlander 71 MC 26 22 2 12 MC
Michael Thompson MC 34 MC 5 25 21
Graeme McDowell MC 66 MC MC
Rory Sabbatini MC MC MC 10 12 MC
Chris Kirk 8 16 MC 16 2
Tom Hoge MC 52 12 MC MC MC MC
Jim Herman MC MC MC MC 32
Zach Johnson 49 42 62 62
Robert Streb MC MC MC MC 67 38
Nate Lashley 57 5 17 MC MC
Andrew Landry 26 MC 64 MC 38
Sung Kang MC 67 63 MC MC MC
Nick Taylor MC 20 39 MC 47 11 29
Wyndham Clark MC 8 36 32 54
Doc Redman 66 MC MC MC 70
Maverick McNealy 49 MC 2 MC 71
Cameron Davis MC 43 14 32 3 31
Brandt Snedeker 68 MC MC 32 MC MC
Harry Higgs MC MC MC 65 32
Aaron Wise MC 66 MC
Lucas Glover 66 39 MC 58 42 MC
Harold Varner 21 62 MC 13 MC
Richy Werenski 4 57 22 60 21 MC 24
Charles Howell 36 MC MC MC 19
Charley Hoffman 10 52 7 MC Wd Wd 14
Matthew NeSmith MC 20 16 7 48 MC MC
Stewart Cink MC MC 58 19 31
Sepp Straka MC 43 MC 32 MC 25
Kyoung-Hoon Lee MC 66 2 MC 32 19
Emiliano Grillo 21 11 MC 22 MC 37 47
Peter Malnati MC MC MC 10 MC 14
Keegan Bradley 10 60 22 MC MC
James Hahn 15 MC 10 MC 32 41
Mark Hubbard 43 MC 55 30 MC 32
Tyler Duncan 57 38 MC MC MC 56
Luke List 63 MC 30 10 21 MC
Andrew Putnam 4 5 32 55 7 21 MC
CT Pan MC 20 65 MC MC MC
Danny Lee 49 52 MC 65 MC MC
Troy Merritt MC 16 MC 72 MC 56
Jhonattan Vegas 2 50 41 MC
Robby Shelton MC MC 53 16 MC 25
Scott Piercy 64 50 MC MC
Hudson Swafford MC MC MC 25 35
Brian Stuard MC MC 16 58 MC 47 47
Austin Cook MC MC MC MC 32 47
Brian Gay MC 60 34 MC MC 72 29
Vaughn Taylor 39 MC 21 MC 60 25
Patton Kizzire 57 39 50 53 7
Ryan Moore 26 MC MC MC
Charl Schwartzel MC 62 MC 18 54
Patrick Rodgers 57 30 12 MC MC MC MC
Keith Mitchell 43 MC MC MC 14
Kyle Stanley MC 32 39 36 18 32 MC
Russell Knox 70 MC 7 53 MC 16 MC
Kristoffer Ventura 36 49 MC MC MC
Denny McCarthy 26 MC MC MC 73 MC
Ryan Armour MC 47 MC 16 32
Pat Perez 36 MC 26 MC 69 MC 32
Bo Hoag 26 32 MC 36 18 16 MC
Xin Jun Zhang 30 MC MC 65 60 MC MC
Adam Schenk 27 MC MC MC 37 MC
Scott Stallings 30 36 MC MC
Scott Brown 53 30 MC MC MC 47
Steve Stricker 63 4 60 MC
Brice Garnett 5 MC MC MC 32
Chase Seiffert 15 MC 60 12 MC
Doug Ghim 36 MC 21 37 5 MC
Sam Ryder 39 MC 57 10 47 MC
Cameron Percy MC 7 21 48 MC
Tyler McCumber MC 52 MC 75 40 MC
Kramer Hickok MC MC MC MC 21 19
John Huh 63 MC 65 21
Beau Hossler MC 47 MC MC MC
Scott Harrington 26 66 MC MC MC
Roger Sloan 22 MC 53 40 MC
Jason Dufner 36 26 MC 77 MC
Camilo Villegas MC MC MC Wd MC
Anirban Lahiri MC 39 MC MC 62
Jimmy Walker MC MC MC MC 60 MC
David Hearn MC MC MC 64 MC
Michael Gligic 63 MC MC MC MC
Jerry Kelly MC 73
Player `19 `18 `17 `16 `15 `14 `13 `12 `11 `10
Dustin Johnson 5 17 12 28 69 59 Wd 57 34
Jon Rahm 12 63 MC*
Justin Thomas 35 11 MC* 3 24
Collin Morikawa
Xander Schauffele MC 2
Bryson DeChambeau 20 37
Tyrrell Hatton MC MC 41
Patrick Cantlay MC 23 22
Rory McIlroy 1 MC 35 12 8 6 8 MC MC
Patrick Reed 47 41 22 MC 24 MC
Webb Simpson 16 1 16 66 MC 15 MC 69 MC
Viktor Hovland
Tony Finau 22 57 MC MC
Daniel Berger 67 57 65 9 MC
Matthew Fitzpatrick 41 46 MC MC
Sung Jae Im MC
Paul Casey MC 22 23 Wd Wd MC MC
Harris English MC MC MC MC MC MC 33 64
Tommy Fleetwood 5 7 41
Louis Oosthuizen 56 MC 2 28 69 MC 19 MC MC
Hideki Matsuyama 8 MC 22 7 17 23
Adam Scott 12 11 6 12 38 38 19 15 MC 26
Kevin Na MC* 46 Wd MC 6 38 7 MC MC
Cameron Smith 56 MC MC
Ryan Palmer MC 23 MC 23 MC 59 5 MC MC MC
Abraham Ancer 12
Joaquin Niemann
Scottie Scheffler
Lee Westwood 65 MC 6 8 61 4
Jason Kokrak 47 46 MC Wd MC MC MC
Billy Horschel 26 37 MC 28 13 26 MC
Victor Perez
Kevin Kisner 22 MC 56 MC 2
Marc Leishman MC 63 MC 64 24 23 8 45 MC MC
Justin Rose 8 23 65 19 MC 4 MC 51 45 MC
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
Max Homa
Shane Lowry MC 46 MC 16 MC
Sergio Garcia 22 70 30 54 2 3 8 56 12 47
Bernd Wiesberger 12 49 MC
Robert MacIntyre
Carlos Ortiz MC
Corey Conners 41
Gary Woodland 30 MC MC* 28 MC 11 MC MC
Jason Day 8 5 60 1 MC 19 MC 6 MC
Will Zalatoris
Brendon Todd MC 51
Matt Kuchar 26 17 MC* 3 MC 17 48 1 54 13
Lanto Griffin
Mackenzie Hughes 57 16
Si Woo Kim 56 63 1 23
Bubba Watson 56 57 MC 43 42 48 37 45 MC
Russell Henley MC MC 35 MC 24 17 MC
Kevin Streelman MC MC MC* 74 MC MC 2 51 19 MC
Sebastian Munoz
Ian Poulter 56 11 2 57 30 65 MC 25 57 MC
Jordan Spieth MC 41 MC MC MC 4
Adam Long MC*
Rickie Fowler 47 MC 60 MC 1 MC* MC 2 MC MC
JT Poston 22
Dylan Frittelli
Chez Reavie MC 30 56 MC MC
Joel Dahmen 12
Danny Willett MC MC Wd MC MC
Cameron Champ Wd
Sam Burns
Matt Jones MC MC 17 MC 19
Byeong Hun An 26 30 MC
Branden Grace 72 46 48 57 42 48
Talor Gooch MC
Tom Lewis
Henrik Stenson MC 23 16 MC 17 34 5 15 MC MC
Brendan Steele MC MC* 6 57 MC 26 MC MC MC
Adam Hadwin MC 57 30 39 MC
Francesco Molinari 56 MC 6 7 6 MC MC MC 9
Cameron Tringale 35 16 56 MC MC 72
Martin Laird MC 57 MC MC MC 5 2 69 MC
Brian Harman 8 MC 53 54 8 MC MC 51
Alexander Noren MC 17 10
Phil Mickelson MC MC 41 MC MC MC MC 25 33 17
Henrik Norlander
Michael Thompson 70 MC MC MC 55 51
Graeme McDowell 69 9 56 62 MC MC 33 26
Rory Sabbatini 35 30 6 38 71 MC 26 39
Chris Kirk 56 46 12 Wd 13 13 55 51 MC
Tom Hoge 30 MC*
Jim Herman 35 MC
Zach Johnson MC MC* 48 54 13 26 19 2 12 22
Robert Streb MC MC MC 30
Nate Lashley
Andrew Landry 47 67
Sung Kang 47 MC 30 61
Nick Taylor 16 MC* MC 73
Wyndham Clark Dq
Doc Redman
Maverick McNealy
Cameron Davis
Brandt Snedeker 5 MC MC MC 48 8 MC MC MC
Harry Higgs
Aaron Wise MC
Lucas Glover MC MC* 6 MC MC MC 50 3
Harold Varner MC 7 35 57
Richy Werenski 47 23
Charles Howell 35 17 MC 56 MC 66 MC MC MC
Charley Hoffman MC MC 30 MC 30 38 37 MC 26 22
Matthew NeSmith
Stewart Cink MC MC MC 38 MC 64 19 MC
Sepp Straka
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
Emiliano Grillo 26 37 11 MC
Peter Malnati MC MC
Keegan Bradley 16 7 60 35 MC MC MC 35 72
James Hahn MC MC 43 30 MC 62
Mark Hubbard MC
Tyler Duncan MC*
Luke List 56 MC MC
Andrew Putnam MC
CT Pan 72 46
Danny Lee MC 7 MC 35 MC
Troy Merritt MC MC MC 72 61 68
Jhonattan Vegas 3 41 MC 57 42 7 MC
Robby Shelton
Scott Piercy 56 MC MC 23 MC MC MC MC
Hudson Swafford MC MC 57
Brian Stuard MC MC* MC MC 17 MC
Austin Cook MC 46
Brian Gay 56 MC* MC MC MC 46 12 MC
Vaughn Taylor 41 MC MC MC MC MC
Patton Kizzire MC* MC MC 76
Ryan Moore 20 30 53 MC MC 26 MC 46 33 47
Charl Schwartzel MC 2 MC 51 48 55 26 MC
Patrick Rodgers MC* MC MC MC
Keith Mitchell 47 MC*
Kyle Stanley MC MC 4 71 33 MC
Russell Knox 35 MC MC 19 17 34
Kristoffer Ventura
Denny McCarthy 41
Ryan Armour MC MC
Pat Perez MC 22 17 48 MC 25 MC MC
Bo Hoag
Xin Jun Zhang
Adam Schenk
Scott Stallings MC MC 75 65 MC MC
Scott Brown MC 23 MC MC 30 62 MC
Steve Stricker 23 41 38 13 37 MC 12
Brice Garnett 35 41 MC
Chase Seiffert
Doug Ghim
Sam Ryder MC
Cameron Percy
Tyler McCumber
Kramer Hickok
John Huh MC MC MC MC MC MC* 68 23
Beau Hossler MC 46
Scott Harrington
Roger Sloan
Jason Dufner MC* 5 60 49 MC 48 62 68 6 MC
Camilo Villegas 70 MC MC MC MC MC
Anirban Lahiri MC* MC MC MC
Jimmy Walker 67 2 56 MC MC 6 15 35 MC 26
David Hearn 69 28 42 6 26 68
Michael Gligic
Jerry Kelly MC 19 17 MC 37 MC 64 39

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