PGA Preview – Players Championship, Odds, TV Schedule
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
The biggest PGA Tour event of the new season is about to tee off! The PLAYERS makes a return to early spring this year and the field is packed for what should be an exciting tournament at TPC Sawgrass. Tiger Woods is making his return to the links after pulling out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. But it’s not Woods at the top of the favorites list. That honor goes to Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy.
Johnson comes into THE PLAYERS, sometimes referred to as the 5th Major, after winning the World Golf Championships – Mexico two weeks ago. Woods is making his return following his withdrawal from the Arnie due to a slight neck injury described as a “stiff neck.” Woods rounds out the top players favorited by oddsmakers at Intertops through +2500.
The surprising name not in the top-favorites is Webb Simpson who is defending PLAYERS Champion. Simpson’s victory at this event last season snapped a 4 1/2-year winning drought. The 33-year-old player from North Carolina tied the tournament’s 54-hole record of 63 on the way to a four-stroke win. That victory could have been larger if not for a double-bogey at the end when his ball slid into the water on the No. 18 hole. Simpson is +5000 heading into the opening round teeing off on Thursday.
Why the PLAYERS is Big!
The 5th Major? Possibly! THE PLAYERS has become a “must watch” tournament for many golf fans. The field is set by choosing from the top players in the sport. First, the top-fifty ranked players according to the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).
Plus, the winner earns 80 points towards his OWGR ranking, 600 FedEx Cup points, a five-year PGA Tour exemption, a three-year Masters invitation, as well as three-year exemptions for the U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. Oh yea, the winner pockets a cool $2.25 million of the $12.5-million purse, which is the largest in golf.
It helps that the PLAYERS has been worth watching over the years since everyone you want to see playing is there. It’s not like a smaller event where “Big Name” players take the weekend off. Here’s how the field is set.
• Top 50 from the Official World Golf Ranking • Top 125 from previous season's FedEx Cup points list • Major champions from the past five years • Players Championship winners from the past five years • The Tour Championship winners from the past three years • World Golf Championship winners from the past three years • Memorial Tournament winners from the past three years • Arnold Palmer Invitational winners from the past three years • Senior Players champion from the prior year • Web.com Tour money leader from a prior season. • Money leader during the Web.com Tour Finals, if not the regular-season money leader. • Top 10 current year FedEx Cup points leaders • If there are any remaining positions or last-minute alternates due to a dropout, they are filled through current year FedEx Cup standings.
TPC Sawgrass by the Numbers
TPC Sawgrass, located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is built on over 400 acres of property that utilizes the areas natural wetland features for visual beauty and as water hazards! Designer Pete Dye designed the course to take advantage of the natural setting with the thought in mind that no two consecutive holes would be played in the same direction. He incorporated doglegs going left and right to accomplish this task.
The course features tight fairways that are often bordered by water, aka wetlands, or exposed sandy soil with pockets of natural grass. The bunkers at TPC Sawgrass are deep with high banks. But they are not as formidable as they used to be. In 1982, following an event where players bad mouthed the design, Dye came back and made several adjustments to make the course more playable.
The feature hole is the par-3 No. 17 Hole which bears the name “Island Green” due to the fact it is actually a small island surrounded by water with only a short walkway connecting it to land.
Founded: 1974 Designer: Pete Dye, Alice Dye Yardage: 7,189 Par: 72 Rating: 76.4 Slope: 155 Greens: Bermuda grass.
TV Coverage for 2019 PLAYERS
• Thursday: 1:00-7:00 pm ET - Golf Channel • Friday: 1:00-7:00 pm ET - Golf Channel • Saturday: 2:00-7:00 pm ET - NBC • Sunday: 1:00-6:00 pm ET – NBC • Featured groups and holes streaming via PGA Tour Live.