The PGA Tour hosts its flagship event this week at its headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach. Every player in the top-10 of the world rankings teeing it up at TPC Sawgrass, where Tiger Woods is a noticeable absentee.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Current World No.1 Rory McIlroy survived a final day charge by Tour veteran Jim Furyk (67) last year. McIlroy’s Sunday 70 delivering the first of four PGA Tour wins in 2019.
COURSE: For the 38th straight year, TPC Sawgrass welcomes The Players Championship this week. The late Pete Dye’s masterpiece that brought stadium golf into fashion will measure 7,189 yards this week and play to a par of 72. Sawgrass underwent some significant changes in 2016, but the island green par-3 17th hole remains the unquestioned signature hole, while last year’s return to March sees the course dominated by a rye grass overseed and unpredictable weather.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
No one has ever successfully defended The Players Championship. However, if that is to change Rory McIlroy appears a very likely chance this week. The Northern Irishman has recorded top-5 finishes in his last seven starts around the world (including last week at Bay Hill), clearly enjoyed the tournament shift to March last year and is playing a near home game in Florida this week. TPC Sawgrass is primarily an examination of driving and iron play, two skills the 30-year-old ranks among the best of all time.
RIGHT: Rory McIlroy claimed the tournament often referred to as golf's fifth major in 2019. PHOTO: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images.
A missed cut last week isn’t the ideal preparation, but Adam Scott remains a big chance to take home a second Players Championship and second PGA Tour win for 2020 this week. The Queenslander’s mood would have improved after watching the weekend field battle awful conditions at Bay Hill while he fine-tuned his game, and in addition to his win in 2004 hasn’t finished outside the top-15 here since 2015.
Although Marc Leishman is arguably the form Aussie on the PGA Tour this year with a win and runner-up finish last week, Jason Day is always worth keeping an eye on at Sawgrass. The 2016 champion’s promising early season form has been followed by a missed cut and back injury forced withdrawal last week that saw him drop to No.50 in the world rankings, but if he is fit will like his chances here. Day walked the back nine on Monday to assess the course while managing his tender body, surely drawing confidence from a T8 and T5 in the last two editions of The Players.
Tommy Fleetwood’s missed cut last week can be forgiven after his near miss at PGA National the week before. The Englishman is among the premier ball strikers in world golf and with two top-10s in his last two starts at PGA Tout HQ, expect the 29-year-old to be in the mix here.
72-HOLE RECORD: Greg Norman claimed his lone Players Championship title in 1994, reaching 24 under (264) and defeating Fuzzy Zoeller by four shots.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Jason Day (2016), Adam Scott (2004), Steve Elkington (1997 & 1991) and Greg Norman (1994).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Aaron Baddeley, Jason Day, Matt Jones, Marc Leishman, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 4am – 10am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 4am – 10am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 10am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 4am – 9am)
*AEDT, check local guides