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Top 3 Players to Watch at the Players Championship: A Fan’s Take

Yahoo Contributor Network

One of the more interesting non-major events to watch on the PGA Tour year after year is The Players Championship, which is known not only for the talented fields that are in it every year but the golf course as well, which features the infamous "island green" on the 17th hole. What follows are the top three golfers to watch at The Players Championship this week.

Ernie Els

After a poor season that saw him finishing only once in the top 10, Ernie Els has had somewhat of resurgence in 2012, with three top 10 finishes in nine starts thus far with a near-win at both the Arnold Palmer Invitation and the Zurich Classic two weeks ago. If there is one part of his game that has helped him to such a great season thus far it is his iron game, as he currently ranks 16th on Tour in greens in regulation percentage, at nearly 70%. That, combines with decent putting statistics (38th in total putting), has helped to propel him back into the mix as one of the top golfers in the world.

Rory McIlroy

McIlroy is now back to being the top golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings after his playoff loss to Rickie Fowler at last week's Wells Fargo Championship. Coming off of a disappointing finish at the Masters before then, Fowler was impressive to say the least at Quail Hollow ranking first in the field in driving distance average at an amazing 330 yards, while also tying fifth in greens in regulation at nearly 80% per round. I would expect him to finish in the top 10 once again this week, and if he hits a few more fairways than he did last week he could be in contention for another victory on the year.

Rickie Fowler

The major story coming out of last week's event was Rickie Fowler, who earned his first PGA Tour victory with a fantastic wedge shot in a three way playoff. He was going to win an event sooner or later, but the one area of his game that has held him back for some time has been his putting, as he ranks 127th on Tour in total putting. However, if he is on with his long game Fowler can certainly give himself enough easy opportunities to make birdie at The Players Championship to compete, along with the added confidence that should help him as well.

Ryan Kekoufski is a scratch golfer who has both played and watched the sport for well over a decade. He covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and currently resides in Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @RyanKekoufski

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