An extremely strong field has gathered in Ponte Vedra Beach this week to contest The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Jason Day defends and the world’s best will be out to claim victory.
Jason Day defends The Players Championship but an incredible cast list has assembled to try to deny the Australian back-to-back victories. Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy will play and Masters champion Sergio Garcia will make his first start since donning the Green Jacket. The Spaniard won this event back in 2008.
The list of winners of The Players Championship reads like a who’s who of elite golf through the last 40+ years. Jack Nicklaus won in 1974. Since then Lanny Wadkins, Lee Trevino, Ray Floyd, Fred Couples, Sandy Lyle, Tom Kite, Nick Price, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III and Phil Mickelson have all taken the title.
Last season, Jason Day started with a scintillating 63 and never looked back. He won wire-to-wire and posted a four-round total of 15-under-par.
This event has been contested over Sawgrass’ Stadium course since 1982. A Pete Dye design, originally dating from 1979, the layout was redesigned by Dye in 2006. It’s one of the most recognisable courses on the PGA Tour and has traditionally been one of the toughest tracks on the circuit. Although, a reshaping of some greens has resulted in the opportunity for some less severe pin positions and that has meant the layout has been a little less testing over the last few seasons.
There are a couple of changes to the course for this year. The water hazard between the 6th and 7th holes has been expanded and the 12th has been turned into a driveable par-4, where water waits to catch any ball erring to the left.
There’s a huge prize fund this week: $10,500,000 and the best will be looking to grab a share of it. There are 24 of the top-25 on the Official World Golf Ranking on the start sheet and 55 of the top-60. Bernhard Langer is the oldest man in the field aged 59, he qualifies thanks to his victory in the 2016 Senior Players Championship.
The weather forecast is pretty good with warm temperatures and just a light breeze, there’s a small threat of rain for Saturday morning.
Venue: TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Date: May 11-14
Course stats: par 72, 7,189 yards
Purse: $10,500,000 Winner: $1,850,000
Defending Champion: Jason Day (-15)
Jason Day swing sequence:
Thursday 11 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Friday 12 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Saturday 13 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm
Sunday 14 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm
Sergio Garcia – Making his first start since his Masters victory, he couldn’t return at a better venue. Nobody has won more money in this event than the Spaniard, who is a former – 2008 and two-time runner-up – 2007 and 2015.
Matt Kuchar – Another former winner, back in 2012, Kuch has been on good form of late – he was tied 4th at Augusta and then 11th at Harbour Town. He was third in this event last year.
Brooks Kopeka – He hadn’t been playing well until a tie for ninth at the Match Play. Since then he has a pair of top-10s. He could sneak in under the radar here.
Key hole: 17th. One of the most famous holes in world golf, this 137-yard par 3 plays to an island green, totally surrounded by water. It may be no more than a 9-iron but, with a swirling wind and the pressures of a green or bust scenario, it’s one of the most intimidating challenges on the PGA Tour.