2023 Players Championship: Min Woo Lee, Tommy Fleetwood Among Seven Golfers Who Can Catch Scottie Scheffler

Let’s face it: The Players Championship is over. Scottie Scheffler shot 65 with a birdie last Saturday to get to 14 under and take a two-stroke lead over Min Woo Lee and a four-stroke lead over Cam Davis. It most likely sealed the deal for Scheffler’s sixth win in his first 97 starts on the PGA Tour.

Scheffler is a ball hitting monster. He loses shots to the field on these greens and quiet He leads the best selection of golfers in the sport. That’s partly because he’s long and consistent off the tee, partly because he’s an excellent iron player, and partly because he manages TPC Sawgrass damn well.

With a win on Sunday, Scheffler would be the only golfer, along with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, to hold a Masters title and a Players Championship at the same time. This is an exceptional company that underscores what Scheffler has accomplished over the past 15 months. He and Jon Rahm were the best players in the world at this stretch, but Scheffler has been topping everyone at the biggest events.

Scheffler has some good players behind him, and he could absolutely shoot 73 or worse and lose to someone charging up the leaderboard over the final 18 holes. But the likelihood of that happening is dubious at best. Scheffler has led to the finals of a PGA Tour event five times in his career as the overall winner. He has two wins, one playoff loss and two total losses.

So, OK, it couldn’t be above … but it’s probably all locked. If not, here are seven golfers who can catch Scheffler on Sunday.

1.Min Woo Lee (-12): I’m all with Lee, about whom Aaron Rai (five behind Scheffler) had this to say: “He’s a great, great player. Also a great attitude that I think is as strong as his game. He doesn’t have a weakness. I think he’s going to be a star out here on the PGA Tour for years to come.” Lee is a menace who isn’t afraid to take on Scheffler in the final pairing. But he doesn’t hit it as well as Scheffler and loses actually hit the field with his iron game. He has “had a great week but won’t have the battery to take Scheffler down the track” written all over him but if you’re interested in stocks I bought a ton afterwards he sent this tweet last year.

2. Cam Davis (-10): Davis is a low-key stud who’s been hitting the golf ball this week and hit a 67 on Saturday. Is he ready to go back from fourth to second place player in the world to win a Players? He has the skills, but Sunday will be a 300 level course from Scheffler on how to finish a golf tournament. He’ll have to navigate this in a place he’s never experienced before, which should be an exciting sight.

3. Tommy Fleetwood (-9): Fleetwood was nearly flawless at 65 on Saturday. He’s third in the field from tee to green in three rounds and this is one of the better places he’s been to for a signature win at TPC Sawgrass. He’s got the engine to chase Scheffler down as long as Scheffler wasn’t shooting in the ’60s, but Fleetwood had trouble getting big wins at times.

According to Data Golf, Fleetwood’s expected win rate has fallen in all final rounds where he finished in the top five (where he will be this Sunday). Still, the ability is there. It’s all about getting a few breaks and hitting a massive finishing kick.

Fleetwood spoke after his round about how hard it is to win on the Tour: “I’ve noticed that the standard has improved over the last two, three, four years. The players are getting better and the courses aren’t getting particularly easy, but the level is getting higher and you have to be really, really good these days. I think you can see that in the tournaments and whoever’s in the field, anybody can show up and win, which has always been the case, except I just don’t think like it anymore.”

4. Sungjae Im (-8): I don’t know if Im, who’s six behind Scheffler’s lead, is actually in contention here, but he’s hitting the ball well this week. If anyone besides the players at 9 under has a chance, it’s probably him.

5. Tom Hoge (-8): Why not us?! Hoge managed to cut the start number before setting the course record on lap 3 on Saturday. This can take a while other Course record on Sunday to beat Scheffler but there’s no doubt Hoge will try.

6. Aaron Rai (-9): The Englishman has not had a top 10 since the Houston Open last fall. He may go into the finals with more momentum than anyone after a birdie-eagle-birdie end in his third round (that eagle was an ace on the 17th), but I don’t think he has the firepower to go with Scheffler to roll Davis, Fleetwood and Lee on the last 18 holes.

7. David Lingmerth (-8): Limmerth is extremely easy to root, despite wearing the worst outfit in golf history when he finished T2 to Woods at the 2013 Players Championship. The good news? He was the third best iron player in the field on an extremely challenging golf course. He ranks only behind Scheffler and Collin Morikawa. Lingmerth is unlikely to win, but don’t be surprised if he works his way into the top 3.

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