The Players Championship is the flagship event of the PGA Tour and is known as the 'unofficial fifth major'. Golf Monthly asks - should it be the fifth major?
Should The Players Championship be Golf’s Fifth Major?
The Players Championship is known as the PGA Tour’s Flagship Event, and is commonly eluded to as the ‘unofficial fifth major’.
The women’s game now has a fifth major, with the Evian Championship in France, so why can’t the men’s game have one?
If the men’s game did have a fifth major, it would have to be The Players Championship.
That’s because, apart from the majors, The Players Championship offers more to the golfers than any other tournament.
A win is awarded with 80 world ranking points (WGC events are in the 70s), 600 FedEx Cup points (the same amount as all the majors and more than the WGC events), a five-year PGA Tour membership and a three-year exemption into the Masters, the US Open and The Open.
It’s also the most lucrative – the total purse is $10.5m, more than any other tournament including all of the majors. The winner also receives $1.8m, again more than any other tournament.
TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course is also one of the most recognisable in world golf and is deserving of a major championship. 2016 will be the 35th playing of the tournament on the Stadium Course.
The 17th hole is arguably the most famous in golf, with its daunting island green where a record 50 balls went into the water in 2007’s opening round despite it measuring just 137 yards.
In a field of around 140, over a third of the world’s best golfers missed the green – pressure.
Can you imagine how tense it would be if the final group on Sunday were tied after 16 and it was a major? That would certainly captivate audiences.
The 16th and 18th holes are gems as well.
16 being a par-5, where as you walk up to the green you can peer over to the right and see the 17th awaiting you. Miss the green right on 16 and your ball is in the same lake that the 17th green resides on.
The par-4 final hole measures 462 yards and is in a similar mould to the closing holes at Pebble Beach and Trump Doral Blue Monster. A dogleg left around water where anything left is wet and anything bailed out right will leave a blocked-out approach.
The Players Championship, due to the golf course and its stature as a tournament, has an illustrious past-champions list.
Jack’s won it three times, Tiger twice and Mickelson also has his name on the trophy. This century’s winners include the likes of Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer.
Some will feel that the game has it just right with four major championships.
Golf and Tennis seem to mirror each other with their four majors surrounding a series of regular tour events.
However what tennis does have is a slightly more stretched out major championship, or ‘grand slam’, schedule.
The Australian Open takes place at the end of January, the French Open at the end of May/beginning of June, Wimbledon from the end of June to mid-early July, and the US Open from the end of August to mid-early September.
So their grand slams take part throughout the whole year from January to September.
Whereas golf’s first major doesn’t begin until April at the Masters. Then, this year, the US Open, Open and USPGA all take place from June 16th – July 31st. The Open and USPGA are only two weeks apart, although the latter has been brought slightly forward due to the Olympic Games.
If The Players Championship were to be a major, you’d like to think it would have to be moved.
Having five major championships from early April to early August would be a waste when you could stage it before April or after August to stretch the major calendar out further across the year.
This would, however, mean that the tournament would no longer finish on Mothers Day, which has become a feature over recent years where spectators and golfers wear pink.
Even if golf never gets a fifth major championship, The Players Championship will, for now, be second only to the majors in events that the pros want to win.
The money on offer, the exemptions on offer, and the chance to win around the world-renowned TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is something that motivates the players more so than most weeks.