Ah this is perhaps the 5th best week of the year, behind the four majors. This is the week of the Players Championship! The Players is the PGA Tour's own tournament, played on their home course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, The TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course.
The star this week isn't any particular player. The TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is the focus. The course was designed specifically to host this event by famous course designer Pete Dye. The course features tall tree lined holes, many sand and water hazards and of course one of the most famous par-3 holes in the world, the island 17th green (pictured right). Total yardage for the course is 7,215 yards with a par of 72.
We usually cover who is in the field in the weekend preview. It is possibly easier to mention who is not in the field because nearly every one of the top 100+ players in the world will be at the Players. The one player who is not, is newly crowned Masters champion Bubba Watson. Bubba is taking time off to be with his wife and new baby.
Knowing that all the big names aside from Bubba are in the field, who has the best chance of winning at the TPC Sawgrass? History shows that this course doesn't necessarily favor the long ball. If Fred Funk could win there (2005) then obviously short players have a chance. Funk's game is that of high accuracy off the tee and solid iron play. The consensus is that the TPC is suited best for great "ball strikers." This means players who are very accurate with their drives and irons.
So who are the ball strikers which should be at the top of the leaderboard when the tournament is coming down the stretch? K.J. Choi won last year. Luke Donald qualifies as one of the best ball strikers on the planet. Lee Westwood would be a good choice. David Toms was a threat last year. One of the current best ball strikers of the year is Hunter Mahan. Tiger Woods's ball striking has not been consistent this year. I would not pick Tiger as a favorite this year.
Thursday, May 10, 1-7 p.m. - Golf Channel
Friday, May 11, 1-7 p.m. - Golf Channel
Saturday, May 12, 12-2 p.m. - Golf Channel
2-7 p.m. - NBC
Sunday, May 13, 12-2 p.m. - Golf Channel
2-7 p.m. - NBC
Nationwide, LPGA and Champions Tours
The PGA Tour's crown jewel is this week. As such, the Tour does not put on any other tournaments this week. The Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour are dark.
The LPGA Tour is off until May 17th.