Fantasy Golf: The Players Championship Preview

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Jason Day defends this week as the World's best return for the unofficial 5th major of the year - The Players Championship.

The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass will be unrecognisable in some spots for the 2017 Players Championship, as the course has undergone a huge renovation that began almost as soon as Jason Day lifted the trophy last year.

Most noticeably to the viewers will be the 12th hole, which has been trasnformed into a risk/reward driveable par-four, while a brand new square-shaped lake poses a new challenge between the 6th and 7th holes. 

The course has never been set-up to favour any particular golfer, but with some holes needing a draw off the tee and a fade in to the green, its definitely a shot-makers course. 

So who should be in your Fantasy Golf team this week? Admittedly the tariffs get high when you have almost all of the World's top 25 players in the field. The Open de Portugal returns to the European Tour this week, where the top-tipped player Ricardo Gouveia is going in our fantasy game for £8m. 

But for the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, we've narrowed our picks down to the high-tariff, mid-tariff and low-tariff players to help you make your decision.

The Players Championship: Past champions in the field this week

Jason Day (£15m), Rickie Fowler (£14.5m), Martin Kaymer (£11.5m), Matt Kuchar (£13m), KJ Choi (£7.5m), Henrik Stenson (£14.5m), Sergio Garcia (£14.5m), Phil Mickelson (£13.5m), Adam Scott (£14.5m)

Fantasy Golf: The High-Tariff Players

Dustin Johnson: Fantasy Price £15m
If anyone had doubts that the World No.1 would be struggling on his comeback from injury, they were proved to be mistaken. His T2 finish at Wells Fargo followed three victories in a row, and he doesn't show signs of slowing down. 
Players record: With the exception of a WD in 2013, DJ has made all 7 of his last cuts at TPC Sawgrass, although that doesn't include any top 10s. 

Rory McIlroyFantasy Price £15m
The World No.2 has been busy getting married so hasn't played since his T7 finish at the Masters, but his worst result all year was a T30 at the WGC Dell Match Play. With two top 5s and two top 10s in five events, we'd argue McIlroy is closing in on a victory.
Players record: Rory has the most convincing case for a Players win based on consistency, having finished 12th-8th-6th-8th in his last four starts. 

Jason Day: Fantasy Price £15m
Last year's Champion has had a rocky start to the season, but while he and Rickie Fowler failed to impress in Zurich, he did finish T22 in the Masters - showing signs his game is getting back on track.
Players record: Before his win last year, Day missed the CUT in 2015, but he also has a T19 and a Top-5 finish in his last five starts. It's worth noting that Day also matched the course record of 63 last year during his opening round. 

Jordan Spieth: Fantasy Price £15m
Spieth had a final-day Masters to forget, and yet still finished T11 - and was close to winning the Zurich Classic with partner Ryan Palmer two weeks ago. Spieth won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year, and other than one missed cut he has three top-5s, a top-10, and no worse a finish that T30 at the WGC Dell Match Play.
Players record: Spieth finished T4 during his Players debut in 2014, but has missed the cut both of the last two years - so will be hoping to turn his fortunes around on the new-look Stadium course. 

Rickie Fowler: Fantasy Price £14.5m
Fowler is certainly on form this season. He won his fourth PGA Tour victory at the Honda Classic in February, and hasn't finished worse than T16 in his last six PGA Tour starts (excluding his missed cut in the Zurich Classic).
Players record: Fowler missed the cut in 2016, but in 2015 he produced an incredible back-nine comeback to clinch victory at the Players Championship in a play-off against Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner, so it's hard to write him off. 

Hideki Matsuyama: Fantasy Price £14.5m
Towards the end of 2016, Matsuyama seemed unbeatable. In 2017 he's had a victory and was tied for 11th at the Masters - and has only missed one cut in eight starts. His last five starts? T25-T45-T51-T11-T25.
Players record: During Matsuyama's debut he was T23rd, followed that up in 2015 with a T17, and last year was T7. The trend is definitely going downward towards victory, and TPC Sawgrass is clearly a course he feels comfortable on. 

Justin RoseFantasy Price £14.5m
The Olympic Champion is on a good run. He lost in a tense play-off with Sergio Garcia at the Masters, and had to settle for another runner-up placing at the Sony Open earlier this year. But in nine starts he's had four top-5s, a T13 and a T15 - with the only cut missed being in the Zurich Classic team event with Henrik Stenson. 
Players record: This will be Justin Rose's 14th appearance at the Players Championship, with his best result of T4 coming in 2014. In those 13 starts he's missed six cuts, but with a T19 finish in last year's event and a string of good results, he'll come in with a lot of confidence. 

Sergio GarciaFantasy Price £14.5m
The Masters Champion ended his long wait for a first major title in April, but hasn't teed up in an event since. He has only played in six events in 2017 but has two victories, two top-15s and hasn't missed a single cut. 
Players record: Garcia is the only player in Players Championship history to make it in to two play-offs, winning in 2010 and narrowly missing-out to Rickie Fowler in 2015. In 14 appearances he hasn't missed a single cut.

Justin ThomasFantasy Price £14m
In his last event, Thomas and teammate Bud Cauley played well to end up T5 at the Zurich Classic. Prior to that he finshed T-22 at the Masters, and it's worth bearing in mind Thomas has already won twice in 2017.
Players record: Last year's tournament saw Thomas in a tie for third, and even on his debut he was T24, so its safe to say the course suits Justin Thomas' golf game. 

Fantasy Golf: The Mid-Tariff Players

Jon Rahm: Fantasy Price £12m
The PGA Tour rookie has made a phenomenal impact in 2017, and is quite a steal at £12m. In the nine events he's played in 2017, he's had a win, four other top-5s, a top 10, a T16 and a worst finish of T34 back in January. The numbers speak for themselves.
Players record: This will be Rahm's first outing at the Players, but as he said after finishing 4th at Wells Fargo - this is a shot makers course, and it sets up well for him. 

Paul Casey: Fantasy Price £13.5m
Casey is not one we'd be betting against this week. He ended up T12 at the Wells Fargo Championship last week, which followed a T6 finish at the Masters and a T9 at the WGC Dell Match Play. 
Players Record: Casey's relationship with the Players Championship so far is an odd one - though this year he comes in to the tournament on excellent form. He's had a T10, a T14 and a T23 (last year), but he's also missed four cuts and withdrawn twice in nine appearances. 

Matt Kuchar: Fantasy Price £13m
Kuchar's best result in 10 events so far in 2017 has been a T4 at Augusta National, but other than two missed cuts he's had a top 10, a T11, and no worse that T40.  
Players Record: Kuchar was the champion at TPC Sawgrass in 2012, and came close last year - ending up T3. He's also made seven of his last eight cuts, so seems to be a safe bet this week. 

Brooks Koepka: Fantasy Price £13.5m
It wasn't a convinving start to the season for Koepka, but he regained his form at the WGC Dell Match Play before ending up T11 at the Masters and coming just short at the Valero Texas Open. His last four starts? T9-T11-2nd-T5.
Players Record: In two starts, Koepka has a T-35 and a MC.

Martin Kaymer: Fantasy Price £11.5m
Kaymer is going along well in 2017, having had two T4's in Abu Dhabi and the Honda Classic already this season. He finished T16 at the Masters and is yet to miss a cut this year - with his last result being T32 at the RBC Heritage. 
Players record: Kaymer is a big fan of the Stadium Course, shown by his victory in 2014 and by the fact he hasn't missed a cut in eight Players Championship starts. 

Kevin Chappell: Fantasy Price £10m
Chappell's victory at the Valero Texas Open was one of the most over-due maiden PGA Tour victories in the last five years. Excluding a missed cut in the team event led Zurich Classic, Chappell comes in to the Players with a T7 finish at the Masters and confidence of a first victory. 
Players record: Chapell finished T2 in last year's Players Championship, and will be teeing up for his 7th tournament appearance in a row. Of six previous appearances, he's made four out of six cuts. 

Ross Fisher: Fantasy Price £10m
Ross Fisher is on definitely one to watch this week. His last five results include three top-5s, a T6 and a worst result of T41 at the Masters. 
Players record: Fisher hasn't been at the Players Championship since he missed three cuts in a row from 2009-2011, but he returns six years later on tremendous form as a World top 50 player. 

Low Tariff Players

Graeme McDowell: Fantasy Price £9m
Excluding one missed cut, McDowell has been flying under the radar with a very consistent season, rating 1st on the Tour for his one-putt percentage. He last three results have been T18- T27-T29, and he had two T14 finishes at both the Honda Classic and Valspar Championship.  
Players record: GMac finished T9 last year, and has missed just two cuts in nine appearances (2012 and 2013) - so we reckon he's a safe pair of hands.

Jason Dufner: Fantasy Price £9m
Jason Dufner's heads in to the Players Championship with a pretty solid set of recent results, having gone T12-T33-T11-T5 in his last four starts. 
Players record: He doesn't have the best record at TPC Sawgrass, although did finish T6 in 2011. In eight appearances he's missed two cuts and last year was T49, so there is a case that considering his recent form, Dufner could do well here. 

Pat Perez: Fantasy Price £8.5m
Perez just missed out last week, finishing T2 alongside Dustin Johnson. He's been a steady pick for us in our Fantasy Golf game, having not missed a cut all year (excluding his WD at the Waste Management Pheonix Open) and recording two top-5s and four top 20s in nine starts. 
Players record: Perez didn't play last year, but has a lot of experience at the tournament having played 13 times in the last 14 years. He's missed six cuts but finished T17 in 2015, which was his best result since he finished T3 in 2006.

Cameron Smith: Fantasy Price £7.5m
Smith was too overcome by emotion to speak following his victory with Jonas Blixt at the Zurich Classic, which has now granted him exemption on the PGA Tour through the 2018/2019 season. The 23-year-old Australian finished T6 at the Valero Texas Open the week prior to Zurich.
Players record: A rookie outing for Smith at the Players, but after Jonas Blixt said he's not seen anything as good as Smith's golf in a long time - he's definitely not one to rule out.

Graeme Dalaet: Fantasy Price £7.5m
Dalaet was T6 at the RBC Heritage before a T22 finish at the Zurich Classic, and they haven't been the only good results for the Candian in 2017. Two other top 10s means Dalaet is around the top 20 in the Tour rankings for both Greens in Regulation and for three-putt avoidance. 
Players record: Delaet has competed at the Players Championship five times, and has a best result of T26 back in 2013.  

Morgan HoffmanFantasy Price £7m
Hoffman has been very hot and cold this season, but he seems to have found a bit more constistency. A T2 finish at the Honda Classic in February was followed by a couple of missed cuts, but Hoffman has finished T12 and T14 in his last two outings - so if you're struggling for Fantasy cash, he could be a good bet. 
Players record: His best finish at the Players Championship is T17, which came in 2014. He missed the cut in 2015, but finished T49 last year.   

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