2023 THE PLAYERS Championship Sleeper Picks: Back Justin Suh & Si Woo Kim
Via Icon Sportswire/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Suh (USA) hits a putt during the final round of The Honda Classic on February 26, 2023, at PGA National Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens, FL.
THE PLAYERS Championship might be my favorite tournament of the year on the PGA TOUR. It features an exhilarating back nine highlighted by a final three-hole stretch that is always dramatic on Sunday afternoon.
The Stadium at TPC Sawgrass is designer Pete Dye’s crown jewel as it features his patented fast and undulating greens that have a variety of tough pin positions. Dye uses visual intimidation to challenge golfers with bunkers and water that are set to match the angles of the greens, which encourages players to hit toward danger in order to be rewarded with birdie opportunities.
Consequently, this has led to this being the toughest course for SG: Approach under 150 yards. Avoiding water and Dye’s pot bunkers are important as Bogey Avoidance has been one of the highest correlated stats with success here. A variety of golfers — from shorter hitters like Webb Simpson to elite bombers and ball strikers like Rory McIlroy — have won here in the last five years.
With that in mind, here are a few sleeper picks that have value this week.
THE PLAYERS Championship Sleeper Picks
Si Woo Kim +6600 (bet365)
Si Woo Kim has already proven that he can win here. He was the youngest PLAYERS Championship winner ever at age 21 in 2017.
Kim is relatively average in driving distance and putting, but his strengths in driving accuracy, approach play and around the green that have contributed to him ranking 16th in Bogey Avoidance this year set him up for success at Sawgrass and other Pete Dye tracks.
Not only has Kim won here, but he also has a win at The American Express in 2021 and a solo second at the RBC Heritage, two other similar Dye designs on TOUR.
He already has a win at the Sony Open in Hawaii this season, and if he has a spike week on approach, he’ll be well positioned to win his second tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach. You can also find Kim at +6600 for first-round leader on BetMGM as he has drawn a more favorable early tee time on Thursday.
Justin Suh +187 for Top 40 (bet365)
Justin Suh was one of the hyped players from the class of 2019 along with Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, but while his peers got onto the TOUR and had immediate success, Suh is just now in his rookie season.
Suh started the season slowly by missing three straight cuts and posting negative Strokes Gained: Total in all three events. Since then, he has been positive in Strokes Gained: Total in nine of 10 events and has made the cut in all 10. He has really taken a step forward over the last month and a half as he has four consecutive top-40 finishes, including at two designated events (The Genesis Invitational and Arnold Palmer Invitational).
Suh was hyped to be one of the best putters when he would eventually make the TOUR, and his putter has gotten hot lately as he has gained at least four strokes putting in four of his last five tournaments. Suh ranked 18th on TOUR in putting inside of 10 feet and is 22nd in 3-Putt Avoidance, which will both be key on the lightning quick undulating greens at TPC Sawgrass.
He has paired his hot putter with improved approach play as he has gained strokes on approach in his last four events, with two of his top-three weeks on approach coming at the last two events down in Florida.
Consequently, I like Suh’s chance of cashing a top-40 bet again this week at +187, and if he gets really hot with the flatstick, he has even more upside. He’s available at +500 for a top-20 finish and +1200 for a top 10 at bet365.
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