The 5th Major: PLAYERS Championship Preview

"I feel great being back here. I always look forward to The Players Championship. We all approach it as if it's a Major Championship. It's our championship. It's really cool and on such an incredible golf course, one of the best in the world, one of my favorite in the world." –Jordan Spieth

 

"I don't know what it is about the front. It's like kryptonite. I get on it and I just can't function." -Rory McIlroy on the front nine at Sawgrass

 

"It is like having a 3 o'clock appointment for a root canal. You're thinking about it all morning and you feel bad all day. You kind of know sooner or later you've got to get to it." -Mark Calcavecchia on the 17th hole, island green par-3

 

“I'm looking at the crowd, at all the people that came to watch the car wreck.” –Jim Furyk on hole 17

 

“Splish, splash, I was taking a bath.” –songwriter Bobby Darin on the 17th at Sawgrass

 

The Players’ Championship. TPC Sawgrass. The fifth major. The island green. The largest purse on tour… Once the Kentucky Derby concludes, all eyes turn to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You know it’s officially spring when the Players is around the corner. Before we talk golf, can we talk about one of the coolest events I’ve seen? On Tuesday, Toby Keith will be performing (or has already performed- I don’t know when I’ll publish this article, so give me a break) a Military Appreciation Day Concert. The concert will take place on the famed island green hole at 17. Now I don’t care for country music, but that has to be one of the coolest locations I could think of for a concert. Live music, America, lake- it’s like a Vegas pool-party.

I digress. If you’re a casual golf fan, you might wonder “why 62% of players would rather win the Players than an Olympic gold?” I have 1.8 Million reasons why. The Olympics are great, don’t get me wrong, but the purse, combined with the bright lights make the Players an incredible accomplish on its own. And, for the casual golfer, landing on an island green without going splash first is a great accomplish on its own… Leave the Olympics and the Wheaties boxes to Michael Phelps and Caitlyn Jenner. You think KJ Choi minds taking home the largest purse in golf?

Peekaboo, Bitch!

 

Weekly Schedule

Tuesday – Starting the week off right with Military Appreciation Day.

Wednesday – Practice rounds

Thursday – Round 1 begins at 7:30 a.m. ET. Television coverage begins from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 on the Golf Channel. Check out featured groups, the island green, and featured holes online beginning at 7:30 am, 9:00 am, and 1:00 pm respectively. Giddy up!

Friday – Round 2 begins at 7:30. Television coverage from 1:00-7:00 on the Golf Channel.

Saturday – Television coverage on NBC from 2:00-7:00

Sunday – Television coverage on NBC from 2:00-7:00

 

Recent Winners

2015 – Rickie Fowler

2014 – Martin Kaymer

2013 – Tiger Woods

2012 – Matt Kuchar

2011 – KJ Choi

 

To be the champ…

Sticky Rickie broke through last year at Sawgrass, proving he was more than just a big driver wearing colorful outfits. Will it be another youngin’ taking the next step this year? Will a wily vet finally get a big win? Or will the usual suspects battle it out for a little extra pocket change?

What has changed since the Masters? Not much, according to Vegas. The three to beat remain the same. Rory McIlroy leads the charge at 8/1. Rory finished 4th last week at the Wells Fargo Championship. Rory has found a groove in recent years at Sawgrass as he has finished in the top-8 the last three years there. He is the man to beat, rightfully so.

Jordan Spieth drank off his Masters collapse but hasn’t played in a tournament since that day at Augusta. Spieth comes in at 10/1. The kid is a threat any tournament he enters. I just don't love him this week.

World #1, Jason Day. 11/1 in Vegas, 1/1 in our hearts. Is there anyone who brings it more for big tournaments than J Day? So, he missed the cut last year. Don't care. The dude is a stud on the course. Only thing Day will put in the water are a few cans of Foster after celebrating a win.

 

…You gotta beat the champ

Reigning champ, Rickie Fowler, is looking to make it two in a row at Sawgrass. He’s going off at 18/1. I’d be happy to collect your money instead. Back-to-back has never been done at the Players. You think Rickie will change that? Hell no.

 

The Best of the Rest

This golfer is a 2-time runner up and 1-time champ at TPC Sawgrass. He is 8 for 8 in cuts made lifetime at the Players. He has 3 consecutive top 10 finishes here. The all-time earnings leader at Sawgrass… Sergio Garcia! Disappointed to see his name in this group? You'll see much more of it come Sunday. How many golfers are you on a first-name basis with? Everyone knows who "Sergio" is.

Hideki Matsuyama is getting a lot of love in the golf circles lately. What's not to love? He's been playing great golf, especially as of late. Five years after KJ Choi's victory at Sawgrass, another Asian could raise the trophy at Sawgrass. This is the one to do it.

Others who might sneak their way into a final pairing Sunday: Henrik Stenson, Branden Grace, Justin Rose

 

The Seminoles

Pass the peace pipe 

This is a crew right here. An alumni weekend at Sawgrass for the Florida State gang. Not only do these guys know how to party, these guys have a serious shot at the title. Rico Dangles and I see bigs things for these guys.

The Swedish import, Jonas Blixt, is one of the elder statements of the bunch. He has 2 top 10 finishes on the year. Blixt doesn't have the glimering history at Sawgrass and is a long shot.

Should I know who George McNeill is? Neither should you then.

The young guns from FSU will be forces to be reckoned with for years to come. Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka are 23 and 26 years old respectively. Berger has been climbing the tour ranks, as he has been sizzling the past 2 months. His rise to 51 in the FedEx Cup rankings has been aided by 5 top-20 finishes over the last 6 events. Right up his ass is Koepka at 52 in the FedEx Cup standings. The masher has been hot and cold this year, but when he's on, he's like John Daly in a stripclub- he's gonna make it rain. 

 

Blasts from the Past

Some old favorites will be part of the field on Thursday.

KJ Choi, Jim Furyk, and Luke Donald join the likes of Ernie Els, Bernhard Langer, and Vijay Singh. Past meets present. The best field in golf is underway Thursday. A tournament with so many memorable moments. Grab a few Americas and buckle up. 

 

Okay, we are all looking for the same thing. I picked Sergio, but I'm a man of the people. Get wet!

 

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