Can anyone catch Scheffler at The Players?

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 11: Scottie Scheffler of the United States plays his shot from the 18th tee during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) (Mike Ehrmann, 2023 Getty Images)

The world’s number two-ranked player, Scottie Scheffler, is in a prime position to win his first Players Championship. Which golfers are the most likely to pressure Scheffler in Sunday’s final round?

History tells us that first-timers aren’t likely to win this tournament. It’s only happened twice. Hal Sutton and Craig Perks.

So that would rule out Min Woo Lee, Aaron Rai, and Chad Ramey, who are all within the top 5 after three rounds.

This is the third start at The Players for Cam Davis, but the first time he’s ever made the cut. He also has limited experience in majors, having played in just four majors in his career, although he has made the cut in each of them. Still, Davis is a player on the rise. He has one PGA Tour victory, having won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in 2021. He would seem to be a long shot, but Davis shouldn’t be discounted.

Tommy Fleetwood has also never won on the PGA Tour, although he does have six wins on the European Tour.

Aside from Scheffler, there isn’t a major champion in the top 10. You have to go down to Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth to find winners of major championships. Rose sits at 7-under, seven strokes back. Spieth is 6-under. Both would have to approach the course record while Scheffler would fall apart in order to win the tournament.

Former Players champion Rickie Fowler is also at 6-under and seems to be getting his game back in order, although it would seem a stretch to see him housing a trophy at a tournament such as this one right now.

One wildcard to consider is David Lingmerth, who lives near TPC Sawgrass and who finished tied for second at the tournament 10 years ago. That year, a fellow named Tiger Woods won his second Players Championship. Lingmerth is at 8-under par and certainly knows the course well.

In short, if someone other than Scheffler is going to win, Scheffler will likely have to do something to open the door for them.