The Players Championship: Clippd's four to watch

Words by
Dan Davies
The Players Championship: Clippd's four to watch

A combination of all the leading lights on the PGA Tour and a tough course that consistently produces drama means The Players Championship remains an early year highlight. Here's the Clippd analysis on those with games tailored to the test.

Clippd’s data science team has analysed the ShotLink data for The Players Championship dating back to 2011 to produce the Importance to Scoring breakdown for TPC Sawgrass. It reveals approach play as the most important part of the game (37%), followed by putting (33%), around the green (16%) and off the tee (14%).

The DNA of success at The Players Championship: 2011-2023

Broken down still further, the five most important skills are approach shots from 180+ yards (12%), 3-8 foot putts (12%), approach shots of 100-140 yards (12%), 8-15 foot putts (11%) and tee shots with the driver (10%).

The 5 skills with the highest Importance to Scoring at TPC Sawgrass

We’ve looked at the 2024 Clippd data for all the players in the field and pulled out some options outside the leading contenders, based on this breakdown.

Sam Burns has been solid all year, racking up four top-10s and making every weekend. He probably should have won when Nick Dunlap came storming through at the American Express, but bounced back with T3 in Phoenix and a T10 at Riviera. His T30 at Bay Hill was a blip, caused by a final round of 78. 

Burns features in the Clippd top 10 with the driver and for putts of 8-15 feet, and is not far off for 180+ yard approach shots either. The Ryder Cupper was handily placed in The Players in 2022 only to stumble with a closing 76.

Byeong-Hun An is 5th on the FedEx Cup standings, with three top-10 finishes and no missed cuts in his seven starts this season. The South Korean finished T8 at Bay Hill and T16 at Riviera so his game is up to the toughest tests. In 2019, he was near the top of The Players leaderboard on the first day after opening with a 66. 

His Clippd numbers in the five key categories are promising, with a 2024 Average Shot Quality of 110 with his driver (100 is tour average), and an impressive 109 for shots from 100-140 yards.

The changes in importance of different skills between 2011 and 2023 at The Players Championship

Tom Hoge is a popular choice with many after firing a course record 62 in the third round last year when he finished T3. The 35-year-old is a flusher with his irons, boasting a 2024 Average Shot Quality of 111 for approach shots of 180+ yards, which puts him comfortably inside the top-10 on tour, and 108 at 100-140 yards. For all-round approach play, he is second only to Scheffler in 2024. 

Hoge came in 8th at the Genesis Invitational and T12 at Bay Hill. He’s also finished inside the top 35 on his last four outings at Sawgrass.

Keith Mitchell is currently 53rd on the FedEx Cup standings but the sweet-swinging Sea Island resident has four top-25 finishes in his seven starts this year. He finished T13 at The Players in 2022 and is ranked comfortably inside the top 10 on Clippd with the driver and for approach shots of 180+ yards. 

Added to that, this year his Average Shot Quality for 100-140-yard approach shots is 107 (100 is tour average). The main question mark is over his putting.

In terms of the marquee names, it’s hard to look past Scottie Scheffler, whose approach and around the green play continue to separate him from the rest. If he can maintain the form he showed with the putter last week at Bay Hill, he could well eclipse last year’s five-shot winning margin.