The only consensus with respect to the way to have success at TPC Sawgrass during The PLAYERS Championship is to get hot at the right time. This course does not favor any type of game in particular, having seen a mix of big hitters and short game technicians alike take home the hardware. For that reason, I’m going with Billy Horschel as my favorite for this week.
While on the surface it may seem like a very unorthodox selection considering the quality of the field that is playing this week, Horschel has been the hottest player on the PGA Tour over the last month. The last time that he finished a tournament outside of the top 10 was the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the third week of March. Since then, he’s finished T2, T3, T9 and won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Streaks don’t get much hotter than that.
Even though this is his first time playing this event, Horschel does live locally so he has had plenty of opportunity to prepare for this formidable test. His lack of experience here may actually be a good thing. He doesn’t know what he needs to be afraid of, so he can come in with a clear mind and no negative history clouding his thought processes.
He’s made the cut in every event he has entered this year and has finished inside of the top 25 in half of them. Horschel currently ranks 14th on Tour in strokes gained – putting, 8th in total driving, 4th in par breakers and 24th in greens in regulation. It is going to take him maintaining top form in all of those areas if he wants to win back-to-back events. With the way he’s been playing so far this year, I have no reason to think he will play any differently than he has all year long.