The Players is as much about the golf course as it is about anything else. It’s much like the Masters in that way — it’s fun to tune in simply to see Sawgrass. To see the island green. To see guys navigate their way through the gettable par five 16th, the famed 17th, and the difficult par four 18th.
Last year we watched as Ian Poulter’s little bitch ass play for second place, leaving Si Woo Kim with a simple cruise to his first Players Championship title.
This year we’re all praying for — no offense to Mr. Kim — a more interesting finish/winner.
Love or hate Sawgrass, it’s produced incredible drama over the years. Most recently Rickie Fowler finished birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie to get into a playoff. Then delivered birdie after birdie to win the 2015 Players.
Tiger’s won here twice, in 2001 (better than most) and in 2013, when we witnessed perhaps the best Sergio choke of them all.
Sergio did win here in 2008 after Paul Goydos hit one in the drink on 17 in a playoff.
Adam Scott did this on the 72nd hole in 2004 with a two stroke lead.
What an up-and-down.
Tiger doesn’t always prevail. Hal Sutton took him down by talking to his ball in one of the more memorable ways.
And, of course, here’s the putt.
There’s tons of history here. Jack’s the only player to have won the tourney more than twice with three victories.
The Stadium Course is a 7,189-yard Pete Dye design that has classic Pete Dye characteristics. It’s visually intimidating and leads nearly all players to the same spots. It’s punishing. It’s tough. It’s a course meant to test the best players in the world, and it does. Around the greens, little mounds and humps leave unusual and awkward lies and make getting up-and-down around here VERY difficult.
And you may have heard, so let’s just get this out of the way — it’s got an island green.
17th, 137 yards, par 3
Let’s go through some more notable holes.
2nd, 532 yards, par 5
Requires a draw off the tee and promotes a fade into the green. What’s not to like?
4th, 384 yards, par 4
Guys have to choose to layup to a wider landing spot or be more aggressive to a narrower area off this tee, then effectively use the green’s contours to get it close on this green. A short but tricky one — I LOVE this golf hole.
9th, 583 yards, par 5
The 9th is long enough and dicey enough around the green that it makes guys think. Must move it right-to-left to get to this green in two, and with pot bunkers, trees, and mounds everywhere, missing it leaves guys in bad spots.
11th, 558 yards, par 5
A lot of risk/reward here.
12th, 302 yards, par 4
This hole was brand new last year. I mean BRAND new — they ripped up the old one and just created, out of thin air, a brand new hole. It was met with mixed reviews. It’s drivable and fun, but will be interesting to see how they tweak it over the years with player feedback.
16th, 523 yards, par 5
Like 2, the 16th requires a draw off the tee and a cut into the green. But it features a larger punishment with the water hugging the right side.
18th, 462 yards, par 4
Demanding tee shot. Demanding second shot. Demanding green. It’s a demanding hole.
Tiger Woods. I refuse to be on the wrong side of history.
The Smylie Kaufman Memorial DFL Award
Danny Willett sneaky stinks now.
DFL, Danny Willett.
Kiz lost in a playoff here in 2015. He’s streaky — three of his last 6 starts are top-15s, and three are missed cuts. So I’ll keep picking him, in theory we’ll catch the right side of that streakiness.
He’s also 66/1 this week.
Dark horse, Kevin Kisner.
Thursday & Friday: Golf Channel 2-7 pm
Saturday & Sunday: NBC 2pm on
There’s a bunch of PGA TOUR live streaming as well.
Knee jerk reaction pod to my trip to Bandon Dunes this week.
And, if you missed it, check out “The 2008 US Open — Fore Play Digs.”