Players Championship contenders: Ranking the top 7 heading into the final round

xander schauffele crouches to read a putt during the third round of the 2024 players championship

Xander Schauffele holds a one-stroke 54-hole lead at TPC Sawgrass.

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Moving Day at the 2024 Players Championship is officially complete — and what a day it was.

Saturday morning at TPC Sawgrass, it appeared as though a rout could be in store. Wyndham Clark began the day with a four-shot lead, and with back-to-back rounds of 65 under his belt, he didn’t look to be slowing down — but Round 3 was a different story.

After making 16 birdies over the first 36 holes, Clark could only muster four on Saturday. Combined with two bogeys, Clark posted a two-under 70 to fall one stroke off the pace of Xander Schauffele heading into Sunday.

Schauffele, a seven-time PGA Tour winner, put on a show Saturday as he posted a bogey-free 65. The round allowed him to overtake Clark at the top of the leaderboard as he booked a date in the final pairing Sunday afternoon.

So, will anyone be able to catch the red-hot Schauffele? We rank the top seven contenders to win the Players Championship below.

7. Maverick McNealy (67-68-68, 13 under)

McNealy is one of just two golfers in the top 10 without a PGA Tour victory, but he’s fighting tooth and nail for his first win at TPC Sawgrass. The 28-year-old is tops in the field in SG: Around the Greens this week, and it’s helped him keep bogeys off the card with just three through 54 holes.

6. Sahith Theegala (70-67-67, 12 under)

Theegala has been absolutely on fire on the greens thus far this week, ranking second in SG: Putting. Coupled with his excellent iron play (13th in SG: Approach), he’s been able to climb up the leaderboard into a tie for sixth heading into the final round.

5. Matt Fitzpatrick (67-68-68, 13 under)

Fitzpatrick has been in a bit of a slump to open the season, but he seems to have found his game this week. With back-to-back 68s following a 67 to open the tournament, Fitzpatrick has played himself into a late Sunday tee time for the first time all season. He’ll likely need a little bit of help from the leaders in order to claim his first title of the season, but at a course like TPC Sawgrass, anything can happen.

4. Scottie Scheffler (67-69-68, 12 under)

The World No. 1 might be battling an injury, but he’s still been as consistent as ever. With three sub-70 rounds thus far at TPC Sawgrass, Scheffler still has yet to post a score over par this season. He hasn’t made quite enough birdies to keep pace with those at the top of the leaderboard, but he still finds himself within striking distance with 18 holes to go. He’d certainly need a special round on Sunday to go back-to-back at the Players, but if anyone is capable, it’s Scheffler.

3. Brian Harman (72-65-64, 15 under)

No one has played better over the last two rounds than Harman. After opening with a round of even par, the Champion Golfer of the Year has been on an absolute tear, making birdie or better on 18 of his last 36 holes. He posted the round of the day on Saturday with an eight-under 64 to trim the gap between he and the leader to just two shots. If we’re ranking players based on momentum, no one has more of it than Harman. He’ll need another excellent round on Sunday to complete the comeback, but if the last two days are any indication, he’s certainly got what it takes.

2. Wyndham Clark (65-65-70, 16 under)

Clark was dominant over the first 36 holes of this championship, but Saturday wasn’t quite so simple. Although he made just two bogeys, he couldn’t make birdies in bunches like he had over the first 36 holes. He owes much of his Moving Day struggles to his ball striking as he ranked 64th in SG: Off the Tee and 44th in SG: Approach. However, even with these lackluster stats, he kept his head above water and secured himself a tee time in the final pairing on Sunday. If he can hit the ball better than he did in Round 3, he’ll be right in the thick of it coming down the stretch.

1. Xander Schauffele (65-69-65, 17 under)

Schauffele has been clinical in his dissection of TPC Sawgrass this week. Through 54 holes, he’s made 17 birdies and one eagle, dropping a shot on just one(!) hole, making double bogey on No. 11 on Friday. Save for that single blemish, Schauffele has been borderline perfect attacking Pete Dye’s diabolical design. His effectiveness on the greens has been particularly impressive as he ranks fifth for the week in SG: Putting. If he can continue his rock-solid play on the greens during the final round, he’s all but guaranteed to win the PGA Tour’s flagship event.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at