As the Florida swing draws to a close the PGA Tour arrives this week at TPC Sawgrass for the 46th running of the Players Championship. Since 1982 TPC Sawgrass has played home to the PGA Tour’s flagship event, which was created by the players for the players. Often considered the “unofficial” fifth major, the Players Championship is one of the hardest tests the tour faces. This year the event moved from its previous spot in May to an early spring date in March. While this doesn’t seem like a big issue for fans other than better tv coverage, for the players in the field it presents all new challenges. Weather will be the great equalizer as always but the wind speed and direction will be among the toughest challenges to overcome this week. All of the holes will play considerably different and the players and caddies will have to be able to make their calculations and club selections perfectly in order to bring home the hardware come Sunday evening. As if the weather isn’t challenging enough Pete Dye’s most famous course still presents some daunting challenges. Among those challenges are the ever fearful and famous par-3 17th island green which has claimed over 600 balls since 2003, the narrow fairways lined with marshes and waste bunkers, and dreadfully thick rough. With one of the deepest fields of the year, who has what it takes to emerge victoriously and be crowned the Players Champion?
Webb Simpson has a chance to become the first ever back-to-back Players Champion. Simpson won last year by four strokes after limping home with a one over 73. With four top-20 finishes at the start of the 2018-2019 season, Simpson had produced mediocre results since then and will need to find some fire to be the first to successfully defend the Players.
Xander Schauffele maybe one of the hottest players on the planet right now. Already a two-time winner on the season Schauffele has not finished outside of the top-25 since his first 2018-2019 win at the WGC HSBC Champions with four of those as top-10 finishes. Schauffele’s only start at the Players Championship came last year where he finished T-2 and will be looking to pull off that winning vibe to become the first player to this year to have a three-win season.
Jon Rahm has been knocking at the winning door all season long and what better place to break through for the year than at the Players Championship. Since winning the Hero World Challenge Rahmbo has recorded five top-10 finishes with the lone exception being the WGC Mexico Championship where he finished T-45th. Though Rahm has not had too much success at TPC Sawgrass his length will be a key to victory this week. The fiery Spaniard ranks second in the strokes gained off-the-tee category and can make a good run at the title as long as he can control his temper and his drives.
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