Ranking the top 15 golfers at the Players Championship

Matt Kuchar probably won't repeat at the 2013 Players. (Getty Images)
Matt Kuchar probably won't repeat at the 2013 Players. (Getty Images)

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You might remember that we did this for the Masters -- in fact, we ranked all 93 golfers (shame on me for not having Guan Tianlang in the top 80!) So I thought we should revisit for the Players Championship, you know, since it's almost, kind of, sort of, a major.

Though there's never a shortage of star power at TPC Sawgrass for this event, only two Americans have won this event since 2005. Heck, as many Americans have won the British Open since 2005 as have won the Players Championship.

Matt Kuchar won last year, but before that we had a run of K.J. Choi , Tim Clark , Henrik Stenson  and Sergio Garcia .

And wouldn't you know it, three non-Americans pop up as our top three ranked golfers to win it again this year. 

Adam Scott is your obvious No. 1, as he's won here before (2004) and is coming off his big win at Augusta. Shortly behind him, though, are fellow countryman Jason Day and one of the guys I always love to pick, Charl Schwartzel .

This is always one of the most difficult tournaments to pick (nobody's ever won back-to-back titles), but let's get started with the 15 guys I think have the best chance this week.

PlayerRankAnalysis
1 Adam Scott won here in 2004, and while it's tough to see him going back-to-back with his Masters win, I have to give him the No. 1 slot.
2 If you've been reading this blog at all you know I've loved Jason Day's form all year. He finished tied for six here in 2011 between second-place finishes at the Masters and U.S. Open. Not difficult to see that or better this time around.
3 Charl Schwartzel has only finished outside of the top 25 one time this season. The Players, more than most tournaments, is about being streaky (Rob Bolton called it "a carnival game") and few golfers on Tour can catch fire like Schwartzel.
4 Tiger Woods hasn't won here since 2001, but with the way he's played so far this year, is it really that wise to pick against him? 
5 Rory McIlroy has never played well here -- he's never made the cut -- but he has three top-10s in his last five events, and I have to give him a top-10 mark here.
6 It feels like Justin Rose is kind of flying under the radar this year. He's played really well all year (6 for 6 on top-25s) and is ranked No. 4 in the world. He'll break out at some point, and I wouldn't be surprised it it's this weekend.
7 Billy Horschel has been the hottest golfer on Tour over the last six weeks. Hasn't seen anything outside the top 10 since the middle of March!
8 Lee Westwood 's game is coming around quite nicely. He finished tied for fourth at the Wells Fargo Championship last week and has played well at TPC Sawgrass in the past (fourth-place tie in 2010).
9 Phil Mickelson is another former winner in the field this week. It really feels like we're at the stage of Mickelson's career where he either shoots 79-81 or finishes in the top five. And I have no idea from week to week what he'll do.
10 Kevin Streelman is another guy who's flown under the radar this year. He won in Tampa Bay and is currently No. 5 in FedEx Cup points. He finished tied for 19th in 2011; I expect him to better that this year.
11 It would be historic if Matt Kuchar won back-to-back titles at the Players Championship (nobody's done it in 40 years).  
12 Sergio Garcia won this event in 2008 and comes in this year with a nice 2013 resume. He's finished in the top 10 in three of his last five tournaments (including the Masters). He might shoot an 88 on Sunday, but I think he'll at least be in the mix. 
13 Every time I look at a leaderboard this year it seems Charles Howell III is at the top of it. Six top-10s this year, and even though he doesn't play this course well at all historically, I think he could do some damage this week.
14 Brandt Snedeker has missed his last four cuts here but finished tied for 12th in 2007. I don't know if that's something to hang on to, but I know he's been the second-best player in the world so far this year -- and that is something to hang on to.
15 Jim Furyk has a stunning record at TPC Sawgrass. Consider: eight top-25s in his last 16 events here and just two missed cuts in that time. I don't think he wins, but I wouldn't be shocked to see another top-10 appearance.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter or Google+ and like us on Facebook.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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