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Scheffler easy favorite at The Players, but history not on his side

Scheffler easy favorite at The Players, but history not on his side

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Scottie Scheffler is an easy favorite this week at The Players Championship, but history is not on his side.

Scheffler won last year at TPC Sawgrass by five strokes and is fresh off an equally dominant performance at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he also won by five shots, but no one has ever won back-to-back Players Championships.

The reasons behind the phenomenon vary.

THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Round
THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Round

Who’s winning The Players? We pare 144 players to one

Through process of elimination, we use past history and stats to whittle The Players Championship field from 144 players down to just one potential winner.

“There's not a guy that you have seen win on this golf course a bunch. I think it's just the nature of the course; it doesn't really suit one type of player,” Scheffler said. “It really is a Pete Dye [course], just kind of genius design, where you have to hit all different kinds of shots and it tests you in a lot of different ways. That's why I think it's one of the best places we play on Tour, just because it really doesn't suit one type of player.”

Although there have been a handful of players who have won multiple Players Championship titles — including Jack Nicklaus (three), Tiger Woods (two) and Davis Love III (two) — the lack of a back-to-back champion in 49 events is a statistical anomaly.

Three defending champions — Jack Nicklaus (1977), Tom Kite (1990) and Hal Sutton (2001) — contended the following year, but all three finished tied for fifth place.

“It's just really hard to win a golf tournament, let alone win it, defend and win it back-to-back,” Justin Thomas said. “It's one of the best fields that we have, so that's another reason. It truly does not fit anybody. It's not a bomber's course. You have to have a lot of shots and you have to be able to execute what the course and the conditions are giving you.”