Players Championship: Sports Mole's five tips

Sports Mole picks out five golfers that we believe could be in contention to win this year's Players Championship at Sawgrass.

Aside from the four Majors and four World Golf Championship events, the Players Championship at Sawgrass is widely regarded to be one of the most prestigious tournaments on the PGA Tour.

With a prize fund of $10m and the challenge of playing one of the most famous holes in golf - the island green at the par-three 17th, many of the top players in the world are in Florida, but the defending champion Tiger Woods remains absent with a back injury.

Below, Sports Mole suggests five players that could make an impact over the next four days.

1. Matt Kuchar

Matt Kuchar has enjoyed a stellar start to 2014, picking up eight top-10 finishes in 11 starts while also winning the RBC Heritage last month.

That kind of form has moved the American up to fifth place in the world rankings, and as a former winner at Sawgrass, the 35-year-old looks a good shout to make a strong challenge at the top of the leaderboard.

The one small concern would be that Kuchar has only won once from positions where he may have expected to lift another trophy, but nevertheless, the former WGC winner is in the form of his life and it would come as a major surprise if he wasn't contesting the final round in contention for a second Sawgrass success.

Odds 16/1

Matt Kuchar plays his second shot on the second hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 2, 2013© Getty Images

2. Justin Rose

Justin Rose cemented himself in golfing history last June when he won the US Open, but the 33-year-old's best effort since that memorable week at Merion is a second place at the Barclays in September.

That has seen Rose fall from third to 10th in the world rankings, but the Englishman has begun to rediscover his form during 2014, and three top-10s and a tie for 14th in The Masters suggests that his next tournament win is just around the corner.

Rose hasn't performed on his last two appearances at Sawgrass - he has a tie for 51st and a missed cut to his name - but a strong showing in Florida can set him up for the summer.

Odds 22/1

3. Luke Donald

Ever since losing his spot as the sport's number one player at the back end of 2012, Luke Donald has struggled to maintain his position among the world's elite, with a missed cut at last month's Masters seeing him fall down to 29th.

However, his performance at Augusta was a minor blip in what has been a consistent season for the 36-year-old who has picked up two top-five finishes in four tournaments, and he was only denied a chance of victory at the RBC Heritage by Kuchar's tournament-winning chip from the bunker.

Donald has finished sixth and 19th in his last two appearances at Sawgrass, with his best showing coming in 2005 when he finished second, and if the Hertfordshire-born player can continue the consistency that he has shown this year, he has a chance this week.

Odds 25/1

Luke Donald of England hits a shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on August 7, 2013© Getty Images

4. Jordan Spieth

The continual rise of Jordan Spieth has been the hottest topic in golf over the past few weeks, and the young American can make a real statement of intent if he can win the second tournament of his short career.

A win at the John Deere Classic and five second-place finishes - including an incredible showing at this year's Masters - has seen Spieth move up to seventh in the world rankings, and there appears to be little stopping the 20-year-old prodigy.

Spieth will be making his Players Championship debut this week, but he proved at Augusta that his lack of experience won't hinder his performance, and it's impossible to back against him doing the same this week.

Odds 30/1

5. JB Holmes

JB Holmes possesses one of the most remarkable stories in golf. The big-hitter from Kentucky had established himself on the PGA Tour before he was forced to undergo brain surgery in 2011 that threatened to derail his career.

Just two top-10 finishes in his next 32 tournaments saw the American fall down to 475th in the world rankings, but the 32-year-old has began 2014 on the front foot and four top-20 finishes in five events saw him rise to 242nd.

His surge up the standings went into overdrive last week when he won the Wells Fargo Championship to move to 68th, and while Holmes is very much an outsider to make it two victories in a row, he is a man playing with freedom and confidence and that could make him a danger to the rest of the field.

Odds 70/1

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Bubba Watson of the United States in action on the fourth hole during day three of the Masters on April 12, 2014
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