May 02, 2014
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- Bubba Watson is making his first PGA TOUR start since winning the Masters in April. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
• COURSE: TPC Sawgrass (Stadium), 7,215 yards, par 72. Cut from 415 acres of wooded wetlands purchased for $1 by then-commissioner Deane Beman, architect Pete Dye created a layout that challenges all parts of a player’s game – often to perplexity. No two consecutive holes on the Stadium course play in the same direction, doglegs were created in both directions and care was taken to offer both short and long holes of every par. No hole, though, gets more attention than its shortest – the 137-yard 17th over water to a green connected to land only by narrow pathway from the back left.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 600 points.
• CHARITY: More than 50 Northeast Florida charities receive assistance from THE PLAYERS, including Wolfson Children’s Hospital, American Cancer Society, The Animal Rescue and Adoption Agency and Epilepsy Foundation of Florida. Last year’s event raised a record $7.1 million for charity, bringing its total to more than $59 million since it settled at TPC Sawgrass 36 years ago.
• FIELD WATCH: FedExCup titleholder Henrik Stenson and world No.2 Adam Scott, both former PLAYERS winners, headline what typically is one of the year’s deepest lineups. Though defending champ Tiger Woods (back) and World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play winner Jason Day (thumb) are hurt, the roster features 46 of the top 50 in this week’s Official World Golf Ranking. ... One more automatic berth is available for the winner of this week’s Wells Fargo Championship, if he hasn’t already qualified. ...The FedExCup points list will be used to fill any available slots to bring the field up to 144 players.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Greg Norman (1994).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Fred Couples (3rd round, 1992), Greg Norman (1st round, 1994), Roberto Castro (1st round, 2013).
• LAST YEAR: Woods became just the fifth man to win twice at TPC Sawgrass, holding steady on the final two holes while nemesis Sergio Garcia crumbled. Tied for the lead standing on the 17th tee, Woods produced a par/par finish while Garcia needed 13 strokes that included three balls in the water. Woods finished with a 2-under-par 70, clinching victory when rookie David Lingmerth missed a long birdie putt at No. 18 that would have forced a playoff. Jeff Maggert also was tied for the lead until splashing down at No. 17, sharing second with Lingmerth and Kevin Streelman. Woods’ second triumph at THE PLAYERS came 12 years after his first.
• STORYLINES: Masters champion Bubba Watson makes his first start since marching to his second Green Jacket, joining FedExCup leader Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed as the season’s only multiple winners. Only Woods (2001) has captured the Masters and THE PLAYERS in the same year. ... Matt Kuchar, the 2012 PLAYERS champion, comes to TPC Sawgrass off his playoff-winning holeout from a bunker at the RBC Heritage. The victory was his fourth consecutive top-5 finish. ... Watson, Kuchar and the sidelined Day are the only men among the current Official World Golf Ranking top 20 to notch a PGA TOUR win in 2014. ... THE PLAYERS will embark on a three-hole playoff should extra holes be needed, replaying the closing stretch of Nos. 16-18. If a tie remains, sudden death begins at the spellbinding 17th.
• SHORT CHIPS: An average of 48.4 balls have splashed into the water at No. 17 in the seven editions since THE PLAYERS moved to May. That includes 93 in 2007, when a wind-whipped May debut round put 50 into the pond. Last year saw 43 splashdowns. ... Only three times has THE PLAYERS been won with four rounds in the 60s. Lingmerth came close last year, but closed with a 72. ... Paul Azinger (1987) is the only man to birdie No. 17 in all four rounds. ... Since the date change, every champion has come from behind on the final day. The last man to take a 54-hole lead all the way to the winner’s circle was Stephen Ames (2006).
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, noon-2 p.m. (GC), 2-7 p.m. (NBC).
• RADIO: Thursday-Sunday, noon-7 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).
• LIVE@ ON PGATOUR.COM: Thursday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. ET. Saturday-Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. ET