Players Championship 2021: Projected Pairings, Predictions for Saturday

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 12, 2021

Lee Westwood, of England, hits a shot from the 18th fairway during a practice round at the The Players Championship golf tournament Wednesday, March 10, 2021, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

For the second straight week, Lee Westwood has put himself in a great position to win a marquee PGA Tour event. 

The 47-year-old Englishman holds the 36-hole lead at The Players Championship one week after taking third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Westwood was one of seven players to record a 67 or better at TPC Sawgrass on Friday.

Chris Kirk, who enters Saturday in third place, tied Sergio Garcia's first-round 65 as the best score of the tournament, but now he has to follow that up with another strong round with countless contenders lurking beneath him and Garcia. 

Bryson DeChambeau has to be considered the player to watch in the final two rounds since he turned in one of the most consistent two-round cards with back-to-back 69s. 

If DeChambeau replicates the same weekend push he had at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he could land his second consecutive victory.


Players Championship Saturday Projected Pairings

Lee Westwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick

Chris Kirk, Sergio Garcia

Bryson DeChambeau, Denny McCarthy

Brian Harman, Charley Hoffman

Doug Ghim, Sungjae Im 



Lee Westwood, Chris Kirk Fall Away From Top

Westwood and Kirk both improved on their first-round scores by multiple strokes to likely get into Saturday's final two groups. 

While they will be at the top entering Saturday, they may not be there when the dust settles on Moving Day. 

Before this week, Westwood had not put together back-to-back rounds in the 60s in any of his six PGA Tour appearances this season. 

In fact, Westwood only has one round below 70 on the weekend of the four events in which he made the cut. That one low round put him at the top of the Arnold Palmer Invitational leaderboard on Saturday.

Kirk suffered through similar inconsistencies over his last four starts, as he did not card consecutive scores in the 60s. The last event in which he achieved that feat was the Sony Open, when he placed in a tie for second with a quartet of 65s. 

The 35-year-old American carded a single weekend round in the 60s in the three events during that stretch in which he made the cut. 

Based off the first two rounds, low scores will be required on both Saturday and Sunday to remain in contention for the victory.

Westwood and Kirk may put themselves in that position, but their form over the last two-and-a-half months suggests otherwise. 


Bryson DeChambeau Makes Push Toward 1st Place

With the way DeChambeau is playing, the expectation should be to see his name in the top five or top 10 on Saturday and Sunday.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational champion is lurking beneath the top three at six-under after his back-to-back 69s. 

In his last seven rounds, DeChambeau recorded a 72 or better, and he put in at least one round in the 60s on the weekend in his last two events. 

DeChambeau has the potential to produce lower scores if he cleans up the bogeys that hurt him for parts of the opening two rounds. 

The 27-year-old American earned 11 birdies, but he gave back shots with three bogeys on Thursday and a double bogey on Friday.

If he minimizes his mistakes, like he started to do on Friday, DeChambeau could enter Sunday as the favorite to win the tournament. 

If that happens, he could win back-to-back events and generate more buzz about his potential to win The Masters in April.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from PGATour.com.


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