The First Look: THE PLAYERS Championship
March 06, 2020
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
Rory McIlroy's winning highlights from THE PLAYERS
Defending champion Rory McIlroy tops the field at the PGA TOUR’s flagship event, THE PLAYERS Championship, at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
It will be the first PLAYERS since course architect Pete Dye passed away.
McIlroy’s PLAYERS victory touched off a run in which he also won the RBC Canadian Open, TOUR Championship and FedExCup, plus Player of the Year last season. He will lead what has historically been the strongest field in golf.
FIELD NOTES: Dustin Johnson returns to action after last playing at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where he is a two-time winner but never contended this time around. Johnson struggled when THE PLAYERS was in May, but finished T5 last year, the first time it was played in March since 2006 … Jim Furyk, 49, tees it up at THE PLAYERS for the final time before becoming eligible for PGA TOUR Champions in May. Furyk finished runner-up in 2019, just one shot behind McIlroy … One additional berth to THE PLAYERS is available to the winner at Bay Hill this week, if not already qualified … Retief Goosen earned a spot in THE PLAYERS thanks to his win at THE SENIOR PLAYERS Championship in 2019 … Scottie Scheffler is making his PLAYERS debut after leading the Korn Ferry Tour last year … Scheffler is among a strong class of debut participants at TPC Sawgrass that also includes recent TOUR winners Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa, Sebastián Muñoz and Joaquin Niemann.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 600 FedExCup points.
COURSE: TPC Sawgrass (Stadium), 7,189 yards, par 72. This year will mark the first PLAYERS Championship contested since the passing of architect Pete Dye, who died Jan. 9. TPC Sawgrass, once 415 acres of wooded wetlands, was purchased for $1 by then-TOUR Commissioner Deane Beman. The course went through some renovations in 2016 but remains known for one of the most iconic holes in the world – the island-green, par-3 17th.
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STORYLINES: Rory McIlroy kick-started his FedExCup-winning season with a win at THE PLAYERS. He’d go on to win the RBC Canadian Open and the TOUR Championship – along with the WGC-HSBC Champions – in the 2019 calendar year … All of the top-10 players in the world are teeing it up at THE PLAYERS, including past winners Adam Scott and Webb Simpson … THE PLAYERS was contested in March for 33 editions before moving to May for 12 years. It returned to March last season and players saw rye grass overseed provide a different look. The weather was as fickle as predicted, with the final round marred by rain and some wind … THE PLAYERS has been won by golfers from six different countries in the last 10 years … No one has won THE PLAYERS in back to back years.
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), Martin Kaymer (1st round, 2014); Jason Day (1st round, 2016); Colt Knost (2nd round, 2016); Webb Simpson (2nd round, 2018); Brooks Koepka (4th round, 2018).
LAST TIME: Rory McIlroy walked away with a one-shot victory at THE PLAYERS Championship in 2019, his first TOUR win since the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard nearly a year prior. McIlroy held off the hard-charging Jim Furyk who fired a 5-under 67 in the final round (including sticking his approach on the par-4 18th to just three feet for a closing birdie). Furyk’s runner-up was his best TOUR finish since his T2 at the U.S. Open in 2016. Eddie Pepperell, Jhonattan Vegas, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, and first-round co-leader Tommy Fleetwood rounded out the top five. Tiger Woods finished T30 after making a quadruple bogey on the par-3 17th Friday.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Television: Thursday-Friday, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 2 p.m.-7 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC)
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, 7:45 a.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Groups and Featured Holes). Thursday-Friday, 7:40 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 8:10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, 7:55 a.m.-7 p.m. (Every Shot Live).
Radio: Thursday-Friday, 12 p.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio).