History of the Players Championship
It is interesting to note that of the four “majors” in professional golf, the PGA Tour owns exactly none of them. The US Open belongs to the USGA; The Open Championship to the R&A; the Masters to Augusta National; and the PGA Championship to the PGA (which is a separate entity from the PGA Tour).
That is presumably why the Tour started the Tournament Players Championship in 1974—and why they have spent so much time and treasure promoting it as the “Fifth Major.”
The purse for the Players Championship is $10.5 million in 201, making it the richest regular event. The tournament also counts for as much as the traditional four Majors in the FedEx Cup points standings. It is worth 40 points in the World Golf Rankings, only ten less than the big four. The winner receives $1.89 million of that.
The winner of the tournament receives a five year exemption on the PGA Tour, a three year invitation to the Masters, US Open and Open Championship and a free pass to the next three PGA Championships.
Consequently, the Players attracts one of the strongest fields in golf, bringing in all but a handful of the top ranked players. It arguably has a stronger field than any of the other majors, for there are no amateurs or club professionals invited; every player there is a professional tournament player.
The inaugural Players Championship was held in 1974 at the Atlanta Country Club and was won by Jack Nicklaus. The event was held over Labor Day Weekend.
It moved to the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth for an August 1975 tournament. After that, The Players moved to the Inverrary Country Club in Ft. Lauderdale, where the tournament was played in February 1976.
In 1977, The Players Championship found something of a permanent home in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida. It was held at the Sawgrass Contry Club’s Oceanside Course until 1982, when it was moved across the road to the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass.
The TPC at Sawgrass has given the Players an identity in part because that course boasts what is arguably the most famous hole in golf—the island green par 3 seventeenth.
For the first thirty-three years of its existence, the Players Championship was held in March. With the PGA Tour’s 2007 restructuring surrounding the FedEx Cup championship, the Players was moved to May. In 2019, however, the Players Championship will move back to March. That is the result of several factors, including the TOUR’s intention of ending the season by Labor Day weekend. The wrap-around, no-break season experiment is coming to an effective end.
The PGA Championship will then move into the Players position in May, clearing space for the PGA TOUR’s playoffs and the quadrennial Olympics.
Nicklaus won three times: 1974, 1976, and 1978, Other multiple winners have been Tiger Woods, (2001, 2013), Fred Couples (1984 and 1996), Steve Elkington (1991 and 1997), Davis Love III (1992 and 2003) and Hal Sutton (1983 and 2000).
Greg Norman holds the tournament record, with an aggregate score of 264, -24 to par.
No player has ever won back-to-back at The Players.
The field consists of 144 players consisting of the following criteria:
- Winners of PGA Tour events since last Players
- Top 125 from previous season’s FedEx Cup points list
- Top 125 (medical)
- Major champions from the past five years
- Players Championship winners from the past five years
- The Tour Championship winners from the past three years
- World Golf Championship winners from the past three years
- Memorial Tournament and Arnold Palmer Invitational winners since 2015
- Top 50 from the Official World Golf Ranking
- Senior Players champion from prior year
- Web.com Tour money leader from prior season
- Money leader during the Web.com Tour Finals, if not the regular-season money leader
- Top 10 current year FedEx Cup points leaders
- Remaining positions and alternates filled through current year FedEx Cup standings
|The Players Championship|
|2021||Justin Thomas||274||-14||1 stroke|
|2020||Cancelled after 1st round due to COVID 19|
|2019||Rory McIlroy||272||-16||1 stroke|
|2018||Webb Simpson||270||−18||4 strokes|
|2017||Kim Si-woo||278||−10||3 strokes|
|2016||Jason Day||273||−15||4 strokes|
|2014||Martin Kaymer||275||−13||1 stroke|
|2013||Tiger Woods (2)||275||−13||2 strokes|
|2012||Matt Kuchar||275||−13||2 strokes|
|2011||K. J. Choi||275||−13||Playoff|
|2010||Tim Clark||272||−16||1 stroke|
|2009||Henrik Stenson||276||−12||4 strokes|
|2007||Phil Mickelson||277||−11||2 strokes|
|2006||Stephen Ames||274||−14||6 strokes|
|2005||Fred Funk||279||−9||1 stroke|
|2004||Adam Scott||276||−12||1 stroke|
|2003||Davis Love III (2)||271||−17||6 strokes|
|2002||Craig Perks||280||−8||2 strokes|
|2001||Tiger Woods||274||−14||1 stroke|
|2000||Hal Sutton (2)||278||−10||1 stroke|
|1999||David Duval||285||−3||2 strokes|
|1998||Justin Leonard||278||−10||2 strokes|
|1997||Steve Elkington (2)||272||−16||7 strokes|
|1996||Fred Couples (2)||270||−18||4 strokes|
|1995||Lee Janzen||283||−5||1 stroke|
|1994||Greg Norman||264||−24||4 strokes|
|1993||Nick Price||270||−18||5 strokes|
|1992||Davis Love III||273||−15||4 strokes|
|1991||Steve Elkington||276||−12||1 stroke|
|1990||Jodie Mudd||278||−10||1 stroke|
|1989||Tom Kite||279||−9||1 stroke|
|1988||Mark McCumber||273||−15||4 strokes|
|Tournament Players Championship|
|1986||John Mahaffey||275||−13||1 stroke|
|1985||Calvin Peete||274||−14||3 strokes|
|1984||Fred Couples||277||−11||1 stroke|
|1983||Hal Sutton||283||−5||1 stroke|
|1982||Jerry Pate||280||−8||2 strokes|
|1980||Lee Trevino||278||−10||1 stroke|
|1979||Lanny Wadkins||283||−5||5 strokes|
|1978||Jack Nicklaus (3)||289||1||1 stroke|
|1977||Mark Hayes||289||1||2 strokes|
|1976||Jack Nicklaus (2)||269||−19||3 strokes|
|1975||Al Geiberger||270||−10||3 strokes|
|1974||Jack Nicklaus||272||−16||2 strokes|