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Fantasy Golf Picks — 2022 THE PLAYERS Championship Picks, Predictions, Rankings and Sleepers

Pat Mayo makes his 2022 THE PLAYERS Championship Picks, while breaking down the field and rankings for the event and previewing the course and key stats.

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2022 PLAYERS Championship Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from TPC Sawgrass.

Players Championship: Course Trends/Bad Weather | Bets/DK Ownership

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2022 PLAYERS — Picks & Preview | Info & Research | Stats/Tools

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2022 PLAYERS DraftKings — Player Profiles | DK Picks | Own Projections

2022 THE PLAYERS Championship: Field

Field: 144 Players
Cut: Top 65 and Ties after 36 Holes
First Tee: Thursday, March. 10
Defending Champion: Justin Thomas

THE PLAYERS Championship (legally ALL CAPS), provides us our first gathering of all the elites to prep for major season. Some may say this actually kicks off major season as it’s the unofficial fifth major. But that makes no sense as there are only four majors. It may not sound like a big deal, but it’s a very slippery slope that ends up with us calling the Butterfield Bermuda Championship the 41st major.

Despite its non-major status, THE PLAYERS does provide one of the deepest fields of the year. Back down to 144 players from 154 a year ago, the who’s who of golf will all be in attendance at TPC Sawgrass outside of a select few.

Tiger Woods and Harris English both have spots in the tournament but are out with injuries. Steve Stricker is has decided not to play, presumably because he’s 97 years old. And Phil Mickelson is sitting this one out as he continues his vision quest for redemption. Or he was told not to play after his involvement with the proposed rival golf tour. No one knows. There’s no word on when Phil will resume play, but the best bet at the moment is in a month at the Masters.

Defending API champ, and 2021 PLAYERS bronze medalist Bryson DeChambeau was expected to return to competitive golf for the first time since injuring himself at the Saudi Invitational in early February. Bryson even claimed he was around 90% last week but wanted to be full health for this event. Well, he’s not. Bryson withdrew Sunday evening.

PLAYERS Championship DraftKings Millionaire Picks

Taylor Moore was the last man in the field for a few minutes before tournament organizers realized former PLAYERS champ Henrik Stenson still receives an exemption into the field from his Open Championship win in 2016 because of the canceled COVID PLAYERS in 2020. Moore is now the first alternate. If you’re looking for 2014 PLAYERS winner Rickie Fowler, he needs seven players currently in the field to withdraw to earn a spot.

There is uncertainly around myriad others, though. Jason Day is listed in the field despite a last-second withdrawal at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Day’s mother passed earlier in the week, but he is expected to play.

Then there’s the biggest mystery of the week, Webb Simpson. The 2018 PLAYERS champion has only played once in 2022, a T61 at the Sony Open in early January. Webb was entered into the WM Phoenix Open during Super Bowl week but pulled out before the event started … and hasn’t been seen since. Webb dealt with a neck issue for most of the 2021 season, yet, because the PGA TOUR (again, ALL CAPS) isn’t the NFL, no one actually has to disclose their injury status. I’ve dug in, and by that I mean I’ve sent some DMs, and all I could gather was Webb was seriously injured before Phoenix and was going to miss significant time. It’s been over a month, and he’s set to return this week, so presumably, he feels better. Tread carefully.

There is one thing that does elevate THE PLAYERS above all other tournaments, however: The technology. If you’ve ever ventured on the internet, you’ve likely heard the online golf crowd moaning about not seeing enough players or shots instead of vignettes about the course architect’s wine cellar. At THE PLAYERS you can literally choose your own adventure. It’s the greatest. Through ESPN+ (or internationally) you can watch any player you want, at any time through the power of streaming. You could even split-screen every one of your DraftKings picks or bets and just follow them. The technology was seamless a year ago, and you’d only assume it has been improved in the subsequent 12 months.

With all of these alternative feeds, we can finally get a sense of how golf betting and Daily Fantasy can be integrated into the sport in a way that won’t alienate the long-time golf viewer. You know, that 76-year-old at the club who called the cops when he noticed someone’s shirt was slightly untucked on one side. They still get their NBC feed while we can check in on our long shot as he flirts with the cut line.

2022 THE PLAYERS Championship: Key Stats

Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 4s Gained
Bogey Avoidance

Mayo’s Key Stats powered by

2022 THE PLAYERS Championship: Course

Course: TPC Sawgrass
Yardage: 7,189
Par: 72
Greens: TifEagle bermudagrass overseeded with Poa Trivialis/velvet bentgrass

2022 THE PLAYERS Championship: Past Winners

2021: Justin Thomas -14
2019: Rory McIlroy -16
2018: Webb Simpson -18
2017: Si Woo Kim -10
2016: Jason Day -15
2015: Rickie Fowler -12
2014: Martin Kaymer -13
2013: Tiger Woods -13

2022 THE PLAYERS Championship: Notes

There’s a lot of money up for grabs this week on DraftKings. The most we’ve seen all year, and the most we’re going to see until Augusta in a month. Since you’ll be partaking in the mayhem it’s always smart to reinforce some of the rules THE PLAYERS has taught us since moving to March from May in 2019.

It’s apt this tournament is held just outside of Jacksonville, as these leaderboards scream FLORIDA MAN. They’re insane. With the 17 water hazards and 88 bunkers scattered across the course, there’s a higher degree of variance at TPC Sawgrass than almost anywhere. PGA National is really its only rival.

And that’s not even factoring in the wind gusts or the lack of defined skill sets required to contend. A lot of courses are so long, a lack of distance off the tee ups the difficulty level for shorter smackers. Not at TPC Sawgrass. Yes, distance will be an advantage on the par 5s and the longer par 4s … if you’re not in the water. Even then, we witnessed the game’s most prolific bomber, Bryson DeChambeau, nickel and dime his way off the tee in 2021, taking a course management method with irons off the tee to ensure he found the short grass. Since distance plays less of a factor at Sawgrass than most PGA TOUR courses, the entire field actually has an opportunity to compete.

In 2019, of the top 6 DraftKings scorers, four were priced $7,100 and below: Jim Furyk ($7,100 in 2019), Jhonattan Vegas ($6,100 in 2019), Brandt Snedeker ($6,900 in 2019) and Eddie Pepperell ($6,800 in 2019). In 2018, each of the top 7 DraftKings scorers was priced at $7,300 and below. It normalized a tad a year ago with only six of the top 9 DK scores coming in at $7,500 or below. Jon Rahm was the highest-scoring player priced above $10,000 and he was 19th in DraftKings points for the week.

The point being, don’t fear discomfort in your DraftKings lineups this week.

Since picking a winner is more random than most weeks at The PLAYERS, lean on the one thing that is predictable for DraftKings lineups: Ownership Projections. See who the masses are gravitating toward and just find a soft spot or two in the projections around those players and throw them in your lineups. It certainly won’t guarantee success, but it’s a way to give yourself a path to victory in a large DraftKings tournament.

Here were the scoring leaders and their ownership in 2021 in the $20 DraftKings Millionaire Maker:

  1. $9,900 Justin Thomas 17.0%
  2. $7,200 Lee Westwood 3.3%
  3. $9,700 Bryson DeChambeau 13.3%
  4. $8,400 Paul Casey 10.4%
  5. $6,900 Brian Harman 4.5%
  6. $7,500 Sergio Garcia 6.8%
  7. $7,000 Talor Gooch 0.8%
  8. $7,400 Corey Conners 13.2%
  9. $6,800 Charley Hoffman 2.7%
  10. $8,200 Matthew Fitzpatrick 9.4%

Here are the results of the highest owned players…

  1. $9,100 Tony Finau 24.1% (Missed Cut)
  2. $9,500 Webb Simpson 22.2% (Missed Cut)
  3. $9,200 Patrick Cantlay 21.8% (Missed Cut)
  4. $7,700 Joaquin Niemann 19.8% (T29)
  5. $9,400 Collin Morikawa 19.5% (T41)
  6. $7,600 Will Zalatoris 19.3% (T21)
  7. $7,900 Tommy Fleetwood 17.6% (Missed Cut)

Obviously, going into the week, everyone, myself included, thought these were excellent plays. It shouldn’t surprise you that massive group think doesn’t revolve around players no one likes. If you knew who was definitely going to win and finish at the top of the leaderboard, you wouldn’t be reading this and I wouldn’t be writing this. We’d own private islands with all our winnings. Stacked fields like this and major championships require you to embrace game theory over your instincts because there’s such little difference between the players in each range. We can debate who is better between Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa (it’s Morkiawa, btw) all we want, but it’s probably smarter to admit they have about the same probability to actually win this week. Just look at the entire $9,000 range from the 2021 PLAYERS Championship on DraftKings.

  • $9,900 Justin Thomas 17.0%
  • $9,700 Bryson DeChambeau 13.3%
  • $9,500 Webb Simpson 22.2%
  • $9,400 Collin Morikawa 19.5%
  • $9,300 Viktor Hovland 16.6%
  • $9,200 Patrick Cantlay 21.8%
  • $9,100 Tony Finau 24.1%
  • $9,000 Patrick Reed 6.4%

When you can identify the most popular plays, which we were pretty close last year, it allows you to understand how others are building their rosters and what you need to do to be different when most of the options are so similar. It would be different at a weaker field tournament when the ranges of golfers are mixed and matched with long-term talent and the flavor du jour. That’s not the case at these types of events. And, you can see, using this one isolated example, that it wasn’t necessary to blindly use Patrick Reed just because he was by far the lowest owned — although, it didn’t hurt to do that as he was the third-highest scoring player on this list. It was to notice Webb and Finau were standouts in terms of ownership, meaning, they were very likely to be paired together in a lot of lineups (along with either Cantlay or Morikawa as a trio) which left far fewer teams building around Bryson and Thomas. It’s not like they were unowned. That’s usually the misconception about discussing ownership. You’re not looking for six players with zero ownership, what you want in giant field DraftKings tournaments is a more unique path to the top where you have to duke it out with far fewer people.

If you had some combination Webb/Morikawa/Cantlay/Finau, along with the majority of other entries, even if those guys did well, you’re still battling with half of the other 118,000 lineups and you need to have the perfect other four players on your roster. With a more unique build, you severely reduce your path to the top if you’re correct, and it will give you more leeway with your other four players since you’re competing with fewer lineups for the top prize.

PLAYERS Championship Course, Stats + Player Notes

It should be noted that no player has ever defended his title at THE PLAYERS Championship.

Cameron Young, Sahith Theegala, Erik van Rooyen, Matthew Wolff, Mito Pereira, Lucas Herbert, Garrick Higgo, Joesph Bramlett, Lee Hodges, Thomas Pieters, Brandon Hagy, Hayden Buckley, Stephan Jaeger and Hank Lebioda are making their PLAYERS Championship debuts. Will Zalatoris was the top debutant a year ago (T21) in a field that featured almost three times as many first-time players. The year previous, Abraham Ancer (T12) was the low first-timer.

Adam Scott has more rounds in the 60s at TPC Sawgrass than any other player in the field (23). The all-time event record is held by Davis Love III and Nick Price.

Jason Day, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Si WOOOO Kim have the most Strokes Gained: Total in this event over the past five years.

In a minimum of three starts over that five-year period, only Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Si WOOOO Kim, Keegan Bradley, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger and Jon Rahm, have made the cut in every start. JT Poston, Denny McCarthy, Adam Long and Abraham Ancer have all made the cut in each of their two starts.

The tiny greens at TPC Sawgrass are a regular occurrence at Pete Dye-designed courses. It’s why Strokes Gained: Around The Green (0.37/round) has been just as important as Strokes Gained: Off The Tee (0.41/round) for the top 10 finishers over the past six years. For reference, Strokes Gained: Approach has been almost three times more important to the top-10 finishers.

All Pete Dye Courses on the PGA TOUR

  • TPC Sawgrass (THE PLAYERS Championship)
  • Harbour Town Links (RBC Heritage)
  • TPC River Highlands (Travelers Championship)
  • TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic)
  • Austin Country Club (2016/2017/2018/2019 Match Play)
  • TPC Stadium Course at La Quinta (American Express)
  • Crooked Stick (2012/2016 BMW Championship)
  • Whistling Straits (2015, 2010, 2005 PGA Championship)
  • Kiawah Island (2012/2021 PGA Championship)

The best players on Dye courses over the past four seasons, per round, have been Brooks Koepka, Abraham Ancer, Webb Simpson, Corey Conners, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Paul Casey, Brian Harman, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay. Lee Hodges actually leads everyone at +3.6 SG: TOTAL, but his only Pete Dye experience is from two rounds at this year’s American Express.

Pete Dye SG: TOTAL avg last 3 seasons
Fantasy National Golf Club

Stats c/o Fantasy National Golf Club

Beyond Dye courses, success at the Wyndham Championship has proven to have correlation. Henrik Stenson, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, Davis Love III and Si WOO Kim have all won at Sedgefield CC in the past decade, and those five have also claimed THE PLAYERS at one point in their careers. Events like the Wyndham, Sony Open and Heritage (short, Bermuda grass course) are prime spots to identify sleepers from the bottom of the list as they generally do not see an influx for the top-tier talent. If you’re searching for higher-end events, TPC Southwind, home of the WGC St. Jude over the past two seasons, is similar thanks to the amount of water lurking around the grounds. Justin Thomas won that event in 2020, while Ancer claimed victory a year ago.

As with most courses, Strokes Gained: Approach will likely be the deciding factor for the week. Generate that many birdie opportunities, and eventually you’ll start making some of them. Plus, a great approach game generally means you’re spending less time chipping or taking a rinse at Sawgrass.

Strokes Gained: Approach by THE PLAYERS Championship winner

  • 2021: Thomas +6.5 (5th)
  • 2019: Rory +6.5 (6th)
  • 2018: Simpson -0.7 (92nd)
  • 2017 Si WOOOOO +4.1 (16th)
  • 2016: Day +5.6 (9th)
  • 2015: Fowler +6.3 (3rd)
  • 2014: Kaymer +6.0 (4th)
  • 2013: Woods +8.0 (2nd)
  • 2012: Kuchar +4.8 (5th)

So far in the 2022 season, over the past 36 rounds, per Fantasy National, Will Zalatoris leads the field in SG: Approach per round, followed by Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tom Hoge, Bubba Watson (in only six weighted rounds), Russell Henley, Jon Rahm, Daniel Berger, Collin Morikawa, Russell Knox, Justin Thomas and Mito Pereira.

2022 THE PLAYERS Championship Picks

Collin Morikawa ($10,700)

It’s the same simple formula for Morikawa: Don’t putt yourself out of the tournament and become the favorite to win. That’s essentially what happened last year in his PLAYERS debut. Morikawa gained 6.8 strokes ball striking in 2021 while losing 4.3 between chipping and putting. The classic “Morikawa doesn’t win” formula. But we’ve seen him figure it out enough times over the past two years to believe he can do it again this week. We just saw this at Riviera. In 2021, Morikawa lost an outrageous 7.6 SG:PUTT and gained 6.8 this season. In the event following the -7.6 last year, he traveled to The Concession and gained 4.0 SG: PUTT on his way to winning a WGC event.

The biggest difference between Morikawa and the rest of the $10K-plus range on DraftKings is his driving. While he smacks it shorter than the rest of the group, his accuracy is significantly better which will allow him to hit driver whenever he likes without having to club down to gain accuracy. Nothing about this game needs to change this week while others will have to adapt to a new game plan. At a course where one errant drive will have you catching an early flight out of Jacksonville, Morikawa will hold a massive advantage with the big stick. Since the beginning of 2021, he’s gained on the field in driving accuracy in 19 of 20 events.

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Brooks Koepka ($8,600)

The rumors of Brooks’ awful play are fairly overblown. He’s missed the cut at higher-profile events so far this year, yet holds a T3 and T16 in two of his past three starts, cleaning up in ball striking in both. Additionally, his missed cuts in 2022 have come at Riviera and Torrey Pines, two long courses that have almost nothing in common with Sawgrass. Expect Brooks to come in with much lower ownership than many of the names around him in the $8,000 range, yet possess the winning upside you need in your lineup. He’s made each of his past four cuts at Sawgrass, never lost strokes putting in any of his five career starts here and has an immaculate track record at the superstar corollary TPC Southwind. He’d never missed a cut at the now-defunct St. Jude Classic with T2 and T3 finishes and has a win and a runner-up since the course started to be used as a WGC event.

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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was a finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at and the best will be addressed on the show.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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