The PGA Tour heads to one of its most popular stops this week for The Players Championship 2018, long considered golf’s fifth major.
Boasting one of the strongest fields, on a course long dubbed one of the more entertaining in golf, The Players provides plenty of drama with so many risk-reward holes down the stretch.
Over the last 16 years, 16 different golfers have won The Players, with Tiger Woods (2001, 2013) the only to have won multiple times in the new millennium.
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In 2015, Rickie Fowler showcased the tournament’s volatile nature while sprinting to victory despite trailing Sergio Garcia by five strokes with just six holes to play. With birdies on 13, 15, 17 and 18, and an eagle on the par-5 16th, Fowler earned an unlikely spot in the playoff, where he ultimately outdueled Kevin Kisner for his biggest win to date.
Jason Day, winner twice this year, including last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, won here in 2016 to cement his status among the game’s elite.
TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course), a 7,189-yard, par 72 designed by Pete Dye in Florida’s wetlands. With five reachable par 5s and a number of short par 4s, Sawgrass offers plenty of birdie opportunities. But ever since the tournament’s move to May, the course has been firmer and faster at the time of the tournament, forcing higher scores.
The famed island green par-3 17th remains among the most iconic holes in the world. Though only 130 yards, or less, it is one of the trickiest greens to hit in regulation.
Si Woo Kim, at 21-years-old, became the youngest player to win The Players after a bogey-free final round gave him a three-shot win over Ian Poulter. Though he has battled back injuries since his Players win, Kim recently finished runner up at the RBC Heritage.
The usual suspects of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Day and Sergio Garcia are all in the field this week. Others such as Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka are trying to rediscover their form after injury setbacks.
Johnson and McIlroy haven’t enjoyed a great deal of success on this course, but Day, Fowler and Garcia are always threats at TPC Sawgrass.
Chesson Hadley has been in form ever since his late Web.com Tour run last fall helped secure his PGA Tour card. Hadley has five top-7 finishes already this season.
Francesco Molinari is a notoriously streaky player, and coming off three top-20 finishes in his last four starts bodes well for his chances this week.