Sure, everyone had Webb Simpson winning The Players last year.
Those same folks probably took Si Woo Kim the year before.
All one need do is look at the past two years to know that The Players is predictably unpredictable.
Now add in the move back to March.
Phil Mickelson went from pissing and moaning and saying he’d wait until Tuesday to decide for sure if he wanted to play to liking the fact that the rough around the Stadium Course is two inches in most spots — Phil’s kinda place.
Sure, you could always round up the usual suspects — all the top 10 are here, in fact, everyone’s here considering that fat, juicy $12,500,000 total prize money with $2,250,000 waiting for the winner late Sunday afternoon.
That gets everyone’s attention.
So you have Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau as the world’s top five, respectively. Those guys should be able to win anywhere, anytime under any conditions. As the Liam Neeson character, Bryan Mills likes to say: “I have a very particular set of skills….” Well, all of those guys have a very particular set of skills.
If this were a major, and it’s not, Brooks Koepka would be the favorite. But Brooksie struggled mightily at Bay Hill last week. So did DeChambeau, Rose didn’t exactly look good and D.J. didn’t even play at Arnie’s place.
Then you have Rory (I’ll get another top 10 for sure) McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm as numbers six through 10. Of those guy, you have to thank Schauffele has the temperament, the control and the overall game to handle the conditions this week.
Speaking of conditions, it rained Monday night, the course is softer, the wind is coming up and Mickelson thinks scores will be low, so we’ll just hold Phil to a low score, shall we?
But chances are it’s going to be “someone else” in the winner’s circle on Sunday.
Do names like Craig Perks, Fred Funk, Stephen Ames and Tim Clark ring a bell?
One player who has been trending up lately and is completely under the radar is 2014 Martin Kaymer. You can’t trust Jason Day, or should we say, you can’t trust his back. He told everyone on Tuesday that after his WD at Bay Hill, he went back to Jupiter and had a spinal surgeon give him four injections in his back. Ouch! J-Day says he’s fine. Wouldn’t bet on it.
Truth be known, it’s going to depend on who handles the conditions best. It will be cooler as well.
That isn’t ideal for Tiger Woods, the only player to win here in May and March.
Tiger said on Tuesday he feels great. He practiced on Monday and played the back nine on Tuesday, might get out early on the front nine Wednesday.
He’s the most intriguing player in the field. With him, it’s all about the second week in April. But you can’t help wonder how he’ll fare this week.