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Golf Observer’s Sal Johnson on the PLAYERS

Here’s the best tournament preview.  Sal Johnson of Golf Observer breaks it down like a fraction for us.
I like this quote:

  • Key stat for the winner:
    Craig Perks blew the greatest stat the tournament had going for it with his win in 2002. Before his victory, nobody had ever won the Players without a win on the PGA Tour. Matter of fact, other than Perks, every champion back to 1990 had won a major championship and 19 of the 25 winners of the Players had also won a major championship. Still the fact is if the course is dry and firm without rain hampering it the cream always rises to the top. . Just look at the list of champions at TPC Sawgrass, Sutton, Couples, Kite, Love, Norman, Leonard, Duval and Woods, not a bad list. But the one thing they have in common is firm and fast conditions so if that happens this year look for a marquee winner.
  • Great putting is a must for the week, the greens are always tough and fast, this year officials have them rolling at 12.5.
  • Scrambling is important, no matter how well a player does he will still miss greens and have to be able to get it up and down to win. There is a lot of tough chips on this course and it will take a lot of chip and runs instead of pitching it in the air.
  • Hitting greens is always a plus, four of the last seven champions led this stat with all of these winners in the top-ten. Taking this stat a notch further the last three winners, Adam Scott, Fred Funk and Stephen Ames hit the most greens.
  • Par 3s are tough and one of the things that all of the winners have in common is playing well on them, dominating these holes will help you win the event.
  • Wind is going to play a key, you always have wind in the afternoon so it’s something that will have to be dealt with, look for a player that likes playing in the wind to do well.
  • One big stat that we can’t forget about, the only time Tiger won The Players in 2001, he also won the previous week at Bay Hill. Tiger won last week at the Wachovia so lets see if history is true to form.

Great stuff, Sal.
One thing about Perks though; his double chip-ins to finish were incredible fireworks and drama.  For that great gift – an incredible, indeed miracle finish, we can accept an unusual winner.  Here’s a list of winners.  Except for Jodie Mudd, argue with me hat’s any other major has a better list of winners.  I dare you, I double dare you.  Find a higher percentage of great champions for winners.

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