Often referred to as the unofficial fifth Major, the Players Championship is one of the richest tournaments in world golf. Always attracting a stellar field, Sergio Garcia will return as defending champion hoping he can become the first man to win The Players in consecutive years.
The course at Sawgrass, hosting the tournament for the 28th time, was renovated in 2006 to accommodate the competition’s move from March to May – it was felt that firmer conditions due to milder weather meant the layout had to be toughened up.
That certainly proved to be the case in 2008 when Sergio Garcia and Paul Goydos tied in regulation play on 283 – just five under par. The contest was then decided on Sawgrass’ famous island green par-3 17th. When Goydos found the water and Sergio found terra firma, the Spaniard had his most significant tournament victory to date.
Tom Vlach has taken over from Fred Klauk as course superintendent at Sawgrass and he’s keen to continue Klauk’s efforts to make the course one of the most recognisable in the world. “If it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it.” He said.
Venue: TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Date: May 7 – 10
Course stats: par 72, 7,220 yards
Purse: $9,500,000 Winner: $1,710,000
Defending champion: Sergio Garcia (-5)
Thursday 7th – Live on Setanta Golf from 6pm
Friday 8th – Live on Setanta Golf from 6pm
Saturday 9th – Live on Setanta Golf from 6pm
Sunday 10th – Live on Setanta Golf from 7pm
The top five – Tiger, Phil, Sergio, Ogilvy and Perry. All are in the field and none can be overlooked as potential winners.
Stephen Ames – He was the winner in 2006 and tied fifth last year. He could be a surprise winner.
Jim Furyk – He desperately wants a victory at Sawgrass and he has the game to do it. He may not be among the favourites this year but expect him to feature.
Key Hole: 16th. A 507 yard par five reachable in two for most players but the approach must flirt with the water short of the green and all down the right side. Eagle is a possibility here but so is a big number.
Skills Required: Course management. Pete Dye courses are notoriously awkward to play and the key to success around Sawgrass is to find the fairways – see Fred Funk’s victory in 2005.