We are officially live from “The 5th Major” of the year. The Players Championship is here ladies and gentlemen! Let’s dive into the action!
Purse: $12.5 million ($2.25 million to winner)
Course: TPC Sawgrass (Stadium), Par 72, 7,189 yards
Defending champion: Webb Simpson
New format as The Players moves back to March in 2019 after being played in May from 2007-2018. March has been proven to be a tougher scoring month at TPC Sawgrass, as four of the five highest tournament scoring averages since 1995 came in that month.
Tiger is back in action this week. After a short stint of a neck recovery, he is feeling food this week. The neck tightness that led to his withdrawal from last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational is a byproduct of the fusion surgery that resurrected his career.
Speaking Tuesday ahead of The Players Championship, Woods said he began experiencing tightness during the Genesis Open at Riviera, but that it “wasn’t a worry.”
He started working this week with putting Coach Matt Killen who is an ABSOLUTE STUD. He started coaching professional golf at 18!!! Now, he is swing coach for JT, JB Holmes, Bud Cauley, and Nick Watney.
Based on the success of Justin Thomas, I can only imagine the guidance he will provide to Tiger. This could be the spark that Tiger need to break through. Especially with the Major approaching, I expect this to pay dividends in Tiger’s strategy at TPC.
Winner — Justin Thomas (16-1): He’s had an “about to win three times in seven starts” vibe going for a few months now, and he has a nice history here.
Top 10 lock — Tommy Fleetwood (28-1): This one is so tough to predict because all 50 of the top 50 players in the world are in attendance. But Fleetwood finished in the top 10 here last year and also finished in the top 10 at Bay Hill last week. He’s not somebody I view as lock-y normally, but I don’t know who else to go with here (especially considering Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson can’t seem to buy a top 10 at TPC Sawgrass).
Sleeper — Ian Poulter (50-1): Put it in my veins. T11 last year and T2 the year before that. He has four top-six finishes in his last five starts worldwide. Let’s just say … Jordan Spieth and Ian Poulter should not have the same odds to win the 2019 Players Championship.
Sleeper — Charles Howell III (150-1): He’s very hot in the opening of 2019. He T5 last year with an exceptional run this year
Top 5 in order: Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Xander Schauffele, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy
Bold prediction: Dustin Johnson does nothing this week. After galloping in Mexico, it’s difficult to understand how he could be anything but lights out in this field. But he hasn’t found a ton of success on this course, and his other wins or near-wins will come later on in the season.
Lowest round: 63 (-9)
Winning score: 271 (-17) | Winner’s Sunday score: 67 (-5)
My top 3 favorite moments:
Just an absurdly hard putt to make….But it was BETTER THAN MOST
Typical Fred Couples dumps it into the water on 17 but makes heroic par. Typical Fred Couples reaction
Rickie throws a DART on 17 to win a playoff against Kevin Kisner. Finally gets his breakthrough win.
Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 1-7 p.m. ET
Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 1-7 p.m. ET
Saturday, Rd. 3: NBC, 2-7 p.m. ET
Sunday, Rd. 4: NBC, 1-6 p.m. ET
Enjoy 17! and The Players Championship!