The Players Championship tips: Cantlay and Lowry can upset world's top three

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Hosted as usual by the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach Florida, the Players is one of the most prized titles in the sport, which is reflected by its new 'elevated event' status and a record breaking $25million purse.

The challenge of Pete Dye's course is typified by the infamous and iconic par-3 island green 17th hole, which is one of the most recognizable holes in the game, and one where many championships have been won or lost.

Players don't necessarily need to be great putters to contend here and despite the course only stretching to 7,200 yards it cannot be overpowered either.

We're likely to see plenty of players leaving the driver in the bag and using 3-wood or long irons from the tee due to the narrow landing areas.

In this high-class field, we could never discount at least one of the 'Big Three' of Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy from lifting the trophy, but I'm happy to leave them alone in favour of the next set of players in the betting.

The 2021 winner Justin Thomas is of interest, but a poor finish last week suggests his game is not quite all there yet, so my preference leans more towards Patrick Cantlay.

Third at the Genesis Invitational and an impressive fourth last week at an event he usually skips suggests he may be peaking at the right time for this one. Looking further down the market, debutant Tom Kim looks a good fit for Sawgrass, but caution must be exercised when considering a player who is seeing the course for the first time this week.

Meanwhile Tommy Fleetwood, who has a good record here, is struggling on the greens and can be left out of consideration while he gets to grips with a new putter.

Instead, Shane Lowry with his accuracy from the tee and world-class short game fits the bill nicely.

Eighth and 13th on his last two visits here suggest a liking for the course, and he definitely has an all-round game that makes him capable of grinding his way into contention.

Picking a winner on such a volatile course is tough, reflected by the list of winners over the past 10 years, ranging from 9/1 favourites like the big guns listed above, to 400/1 outsiders, which opens up possibilities at the bottom end of the betting market.

Anyone looking for a juicy three-figure contender could do worse than look at the likes of Brian Harman, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar. Their slow but steady point-to-point style of play looks tailor-made for Sawgrass, and this is reflected by the fact that Harman is a serial contender here, while Simpson (2018) and Kuchar (2012) have both previously lifted the trophy.

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