Predictions: Who will win the players?

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The players have a new date, making their appearance in March for the first time since 2006. Various players have won the marquee of the PGA Tour, from Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to Tim Clark and Stephen Ames. So, yes, it's really the game of anyone this week at TPC Sawgrass. So we gathered our group of experts to know who they thought would navigate through the water-filled finish of architect Pete Dye – the green island at 17 and the awesome T-shirt with water remaining to wait 18 – to claim the trophy.

Matt Barrie, anchor of SportsCenter
Winner: Xander Schauffele
Why he will win: He has been identified as the next American golfer and has already won two victories this year. To go to the next step, he has to win a big tournament. This is happening this week at The Players.

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    Michael Collins, ESPN.com journalist
    Winner: Henrik Stenson
    Why he will win: The last time The Players was held in March, it was the first time Stenson played this event, in 2006. He finished T-3 in this tournament. He is older, wiser and a much better player now. Did I mention how strong he was last week in Bay Hill after the first round of Thursday's 77th? He went 66-69-71 to finish T-17.

    Michael Eaves, anchor of SportsCenter
    Winner: Rory McIlroy
    Why he will win: His game is recovering pretty well for a while now. It's finally time for Rory to claim his first title at Sawgrass.

    Chris Fallica, ESPN Stats & Information
    Winner: Justin Thomas
    Why he will win: Thomas has not won this year yet, but he has been in position several times before the fights for the final round in Phoenix and Riviera. JT took a week off after the Honda Classic, which should bode well for this weekend. I'm curious to see the impact of the move to March on the course and the style of play. That said, we have seen a variety of styles win here. The way JT can roll in birdies and make the lowest makes him a threat to win anywhere. He finished 11th here last year and 3rd in 2016. This week, he won first place in the season standings, along with three other three first places.

    Bob Harig, journalist of ESPN.com
    Winner: Brooks Koepka
    Why he will win: The player is unique in that all shapes and sizes win the tournament. And for 20 years, only one player has captured the tournament more than once: Tiger Woods. So, this suggests that someone who has not won before – and Koepka is the guy. He finished 11th last year in one of his first starts after a long recovery from a wrist injury.

    Ian O 'Connor, ESPN.com Reporter
    Winner: Rory McIlroy
    Why he will win: All these recent near-misses and these last groups mean that McIlroy must break much earlier than later. Just as he is too good to never win the Masters, he is too good to never win the players. Maybe this year McIlroy will go 2-in-2.

    Nick Pietruszkiewicz, publisher of ESPN.com
    Winner:
    Justin Thomas
    Why he will win: Find a course where it is not a threat. He leads the Tour on average in birdie, scoring the average and winning shots getting closer to the green – he is the second in number of shots earned and the third in number of shots won in total. The only thing that is not prime this year is after the last day of a tournament. It's changing this week.

    Peter Lawrence-Riddell, publisher of ESPN.com
    Winner: Francesco Molinari
    Why he will win: I do not like the idea of ​​choosing someone to go back to back, but Molinari was going to be my choice before Arnold Palmer 's victory, so I will stay with him. Even though he missed the cut in 2018, the reigning Open champion has an excellent record at The Players, finishing in the top 10 in his previous three appearances (T-6 in 2017; -7 in 2016, T-6 in 2014). He obviously goes to Sawgrass with great confidence and should be considered one of the favorites.

    Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com journalist
    Winner: Paul Casey
    Why he will win: The Brit missed this event last year because of a back injury, but he played well in 2016 and 2017 with a pair of top 25. He finished two of the top five at the time. his last three tournaments. If Casey resists, he will win this week.

    Marty Smith, ESPN journalist
    Winner: Rory McIlroy
    Why he will win: He is currently the most consistent golfer in the world, consistently in the top 5 or top 10 and constantly beating at this door. This weekend, he sinks the damn door.

    Kevin Van Valkenburg, ESPN.com Reporter
    Winner: Tommy Fleetwood
    Why he will win: Fleetwood seemed on the verge of capturing the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week until an inexplicable 76 Saturday. I think it was just a hiccup, and he is ready to clinch the biggest win of his career this week. There will be wind and the fairways and greens will be firm. Few guys are as good at it as Fleetwood doing some great shots in the wind.