It may not be an official major, but there’s a better field at THE PLAYERS Championship this week than there was at the Masters just a month ago.
Granted, it’s better by just one man, but it’s better. The entirety of the world’s top 50 enter at TPC Sawgrass this week where only 49 entered at Augusta with Brooks Koepka missing out through injury.
So with the world’s top 50 in attendance – and a few healthy additions in the shape of Tiger Woods, Martin Kaymer and Adam Scott – it is set up to be as exciting as a tournament can get.
Jason Day is in straight on the back of his second win of the year; Ian Poulter is in the form of his life and came in a tie for second here last year; world-top-fivers Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm all have wins in 2018; and Patrick Reed earned a fifth consecutive top 10 in his first start since winning the Masters last week.
And all that is just a handful of the prospects out in Florida this week.
In last year’s outing, Si Woo Kim became the youngest ever winner of THE PLAYERS at 21 years and 304 days old. A bogey-free 69 was enough to finish three shots clear of Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen. All three are back for a taste of the same this year.Embed from Getty Images
So too are winners of the past Day (2016), Rickie Fowler (2015), Kaymer (2014), Woods (2001 and 2013), Matt Kuchar (2012), Henrik Stenson (2009), Sergio Garcia (2008), Phil Mickelson (2007) and Scott (2004).
All in all there are 144 men in the field at TPC Sawgrass and all will be fighting it out for a tournament high $11million purse. $1.98million of that is for the winner and even number two gets $1.188million; not a bad payout for four days work. And with an elevated 600 FedExCup points there’s the chance for many to hit the front of the rankings as we move into major season.
Heralded as the fifth major, this tournament is far younger than the big four having only run since 1974. This will be the 45th outing of THE PLAYERS and the 37th outing at TPC Sawgrass. The Stadium Course is an apparently tame 7189 yard par 72 but with a bite much worse than its bark. Winning scores have sat between 10 and 15-under-par every year since 2011.
TPC Sawgrass is famed for its signature hole, the Island Green. The short, 137-yard par three’s green is guarded entirely by water and has played host to some of the most dramatic scenes in PGA Tour history:
Let’s hope for more scenes like that this time around, as the best field of 2018 so far heads out to Ponte Verde Beach.