The Players Championship Preview 2017

The Players Championship Preview 2017

THE PLAYERS Championship Preview 2017

Dates: May 9-14, 2017
Where: Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Course: THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass; 36-36—par 72/7,189 yards
Field size: 147
2016 champion: Jason Day
Purse: $10,500,000 ($1,890,000/winner)
FedExCup: 600 points to the winner
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Twitter: @THEPLAYERSChamp

A look back at THE PLAYERS 2016

Final Leaderboard

  • Jason Day 63-66-73-71—273 (-15)
  • Kevin Chappell 71-67-70-69—277 (-11)
  • Justin Thomas 70-68-75-65—278 (-10) Matt Kuchar 71-67-72-68—278 (-10)
  • Colt Knost 72-63-74-69—278 (-10)
  • Ken Duke  74-67-65-72—278 (-10)

 How Jason Day won THE PLAYERS Championship in 2016

  • After holding sole possession of the lead after each round, Jason Day won THE PLAYERS Championship by four strokes.
  • It marked his 10th career PGA TOUR title in his 181st professional start at the age of 28 years, 6 months, 3 days.
  • Day became the fifth player since 1980 to win 10 or more times on the PGA TOUR before his 29th birthday, joining Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and David Duval.

More on Jason Day

  • Jason Day became the third different player to win THE PLAYERS while ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking: Greg Norman (1994), Tiger Woods (2001 and 2013) and Jason Day (2016).
  • With wire-to-wire wins (no ties) at the 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard and THE PLAYERS Championship 2016, Day joined Tiger Woods (2000, 2002), Tom Watson (1980) and Johnny Miller (1974) as players to win wire-to-wire twice in the same season dating to 1970. Mackenzie Hughes (The RSM Classic) and Justin Thomas (Sony Open in Hawaii) are the only wire-to-wire winners this season.
  • Day became the fifth wire-to-wire winner of THE PLAYERS, and first since Hal Sutton in 2000.
  • Day tied the Stadium Course 18-hole course record with 9-under 63 in the opening round last year. Colt Knost matched that record in the second round. Martin Kaymer, Fred Couples, Greg Norman and Roberto Castro are others who share the record.
  • In six appearances at THE PLAYERS, Day owns an additional top 10 (T6/2011), a T19 in 2013, and he missed the cut three times (2010, 2012, 2015).
  • Last year, Day played nine events in the season before coming to THE PLAYERS ranked No. 2 in the FedExCup standings. He won to move to No. 1. This season, Day ranks No. 99 in the FedExCup standings after nine events.
  • In eight starts this season, Day’s lone top-10 result is T5 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
  • Day will attempt to improve on a record that currently belongs to fellow countryman Adam Scott. Scott, the champion in 2004, was the last PLAYERS champion to post a top-10 finish (T8) while attempting to successfully defend his title. Here’s a look at how recent past champions have performed while defending their title at TPC Sawgrass
    • 2016  Jason Day   –
    • 2015  Rickie Fowler   MC
    • 2014  Martin Kaymer   T56
    • 2013  Tiger Woods   DNP
    • 2012  Matt Kuchar   T48
    • 2011  K.J. Choi   MC
    • 2010  Tim Clark   WD
    • 2009  Henrik Stenson   MC
    • 2008  Sergio Garcia   T22
    • 2007  Phil Mickelson   T21
    • 2006  Stephen Ames   MC
    • 2005  Fred Funk   T16
    • 2004  Adam Scott   T8
  • No player has ever successfully defended their title at THE PLAYERS Championship, with Nick Price’s fifth-place effort in 1994 the best finish for a defending champion.

 

A look at the field

  • Top 10 in current FedExCup standings and 47 of top-50.
  • Top 10 in Official World Golf Ranking and 48 of top-50.
  • 111 PGA TOUR winners for a total of 455 PGA TOUR victories.
  • All winners on the PGA TOUR since THE PLAYERS last year will be at TPC Sawgrass (Wells Fargo winner TBD)
  • Nine former PLAYERS winners: Jason Day (2016), Rickie Fowler (2015), Martin Kaymer (2014), Matt Kuchar (2012), K.J. Choi (2011), Henrik Stenson (2009), Sergio Garcia (2008), Phil Mickelson (2007), Adam Scott (2004).
  • A total of 18 first-time PLAYERS Championship participants.
  • For the third consecutive year, Bernhard Langer (59) is the oldest player in the field after earning an exemption for winning the 2016 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. This will be Langer’s 26th start in THE PLAYERS. Last year he missed the cut with 72-72–144. Mark O’Meara holds the best finish by a player who earned a spot via the PGA TOUR Champions victory, finishing 74th in 2011.
  • Qualified for THE PLAYERS, but not competing are: Brandt Snedeker (wrist), Jon Curran (rib), Colt Knost (wrist), John Senden (family medical issue), Tiger Woods (back) and Thomas Pieters.

The best field in golf descends on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, with 46 of the top 50 in the FedExCup standings present

  • THE PLAYERS Championship marks the 27th event of the PGA TOUR Season, with 16 tournaments remaining to qualify for the four-tournament FedExCup Playoffs, culminating at the TOUR Championship in late September.
  • Leading the FedExCup standings is Dustin Johnson, a three-time winner in 2016-17, who claimed the lead in the FedExCup standings after his victory at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play following earlier wins at the Genesis Open and the WGC-Mexico Championship.
  • Justin Thomas (3 wins), Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (2 wins) and Brendan Steele, winner of the season-opening Safeway Open, are the only other players to have held the lead in the FedExCup standings this season.
  • Johnson holds a 51-point lead over Thomas heading into THE PLAYERS, where the winner will earn 600 FedExCup points.

 

Additional player notes

Dustin Johnson

  • FedExCup leader and World. No. 1 Dustin Johnson returned to competition at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship following an injury which forced him to withdraw from the Masters.
  • The 15-time PGA TOUR winner won his last three starts on TOUR prior to his return at the Wells Fargo Championship (Genesis Open, WGC-Mexico Championship, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play).
  • Johnson’s tournament history at THE PLAYERS includes one top-30 finish in eight starts – a T28 last year.
  • Johnson’s only sub-70 opening round at the Stadium Course is a 4-under 68 in 2014 (T59). Last year’s final-round 68 matched his low round in 26 total rounds at this event.
  • By winning the Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson became the only player to win all four current World Golf Championships events (HSBC Champions, Bridgestone Invitational, Mexico Championship and Dell Technologies Match Play).

Sergio Garcia

  • Former PLAYERS champion Sergio Garcia became the eighth player with a victory at both THE PLAYERS (2008) and the Masters Tournament (2017). The others are Raymond Floyd, Jack Nicklaus, Sandy Lyle, Fred Couples, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.
  • Garcia heads to TPC Sawgrass as Masters champion after claiming his first major title in 74 attempts. The last two Masters winners have missed the cut at THE PLAYERS the month after their major title win (Danny Willett/2016, Jordan Spieth/2015). Before Spieth in 2015, the last Masters champion to miss THE PLAYERS cut was Mike Weir in 2004.
  • Garcia owns the longest active-cuts-made streak at THE PLAYERS with 13 in a row, dating to a T53 finish in 2004. Brad Faxon (14) and Tiger Woods (13) have the longest consecutive cuts-made streaks. Tom Kite holds the record for most cuts made at 23.
  • In 17 previous starts at THE PLAYERS, Garcia has a victory (2008) and five additional top-10 finishes in 2002 (T4), 2007 (2), 2013 (T8), 2014 (3) and 2015 (T2). Garcia is seeking to become the seventh player to win THE PLAYERS more than once—Jack Nicklaus (3), Fred Couples (2), Davis Love III (2), Hal Sutton (2), Steve Elkington (2) and Tiger Woods (2).
  • With $5,253,948, Garcia has earned the most money of any player at THE PLAYERS Championship.

Adam Scott 

  • Adam Scott is making his ninth start of the season; a T9 at the Masters was his second top-10 of the season (CIMB Classic – T10).
  • Scott is the youngest winner of THE PLAYERS at 23 years, 8 months, 12 days in 2004.
  • Scott was the last champion to post a top-10 finish (T8) while attempting to defend THE PLAYERS.
  • The 2004 win was one of three top-10 results in 15 appearances for Scott (1/2004, T8/2005, T6/2007).
  • Scott holds the record at 41 for fewest PGA TOUR starts by an eventual PLAYERS champion.
  • Scott has missed one cut in his last 27 official PGA TOUR starts (2017 Shell Houston Open).

Justin Thomas

  • Thomas is a four-time TOUR winner, including three wins this season (CIMB Classic, SBS Tournament of Champions, Sony Open in Hawaii). Thomas shot 59 (-11) in the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii to become the seventh player with a sub-60 round on TOUR.
  • Thomas sits No. 2 in the FedExCup standings, trailing leader Dustin Johnson by 51 points.
  • Thomas was T3 at THE PLAYERS last year with rounds of 70-68-75-65. He also shot 65 (R3) in his only other appearance at TPC Sawgrass when he finished T24 in 2015.

Hideki Matsuyama

  • After the close of the 2015-16 PGA TOUR season, Matsuyama won five of 10 worldwide starts, including the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and the Waste Management Phoenix Open in a four-hole playoff over Webb Simpson. Matsuyama also claimed the Japan Golf Open and the VISA Taiheyo Masters in his home country and beat a small-but-stellar field in the Bahamas to capture the Hero World Challenge. During this period he also finished runner-up at the CIMB Classic and the SBS Tournament of Champions.
  • Matsuyama has been at the top, or near the top, of the FedExCup standings this season and currently lies third behind leader Dustin Johnson and No.2 Justin Thomas.
  • Matsuyama makes his fourth appearance at THE PLAYERS, where he has improved with each start (T23/2014, T17/2015, T7/2016).

Rory McIlroy

  • THE PLAYERS will be McIlroy’s sixth start this season with a T30 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play his only finish outside the top-10 (T4/WGC-HSBC Champions, T7/WGC-Mexico Championship, T4/Arnold Palmer Invitational, T30/WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, T7/Masters).
  • McIlroy will make his eighth appearance at THE PLAYERS. After missing the cut in his first three starts at TPC Sawgrass, McIlroy turned his fortunes around on the Stadium Course, posting three consecutive top 10s in his next three starts (T8-2013, T6-2014, T8-2015). A T12 last year included a second-round 8-under 64, his lowest 18-hole score at TPC Sawgrass.

Jordan Spieth

  • With his win at the 2017 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Spieth tied Jason Day for most victories since the start of the 2013 PGA TOUR season. Spieth and Day, who have nine each, were joined by Dustin Johnson when he won the Genesis Open, WGC-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in consecutive starts to reach nine titles since the start of the 2013 season.
    • Spieth is the second-youngest player since World War II to win nine times on the PGA TOUR: o Tiger Woods (23 years, 5 months, 7 days) – 1999 Memorial
    • o Jordan Spieth (23 years, 6 months, 16 days) – 2017 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
    • o Jack Nicklaus (24 years, 19 days) – 1964 Waste Management Phoenix Open
  • In 10 starts this season, Spieth has finished inside the top 10 five times.
  • Spieth makes his fourth appearance at THE PLAYERS following two missed cuts after a T4 in his tournament debut in 2014.
  • Spieth finished T2 in the Junior PLAYERS at TPC Sawgrass in 2010.

 

Phil Mickelson

  • Phil Mickelson will make his 24th appearance at THE PLAYERS. Jay Haas, with 29, has the most starts.
  • Mickelson won THE PLAYERS in 2007 and owns two addition top 10s at TPC Sawgrass (T3/2004, T8/1998). He has missed the cut in his last four appearances at this championship.
  • Mickelson has three top-10 results in 11 starts this season (T8/Safeway Open, T7/WGC-Mexico Championship, T5/WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play).
  • Mickelson’s most recent win on TOUR was The Open Championship in 2013.

Justin Rose

  • Rose has made 13 starts at THE PLAYERS with just one top 10 (T4/2014).
  • Rose was runner-up to Sergio Garcia after losing a sudden-death playoff at last month’s Masters Tournament. Rose was also runner-up early in the year at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
  • Rose won the gold medal in the Olympic Golf Competition in Brazil last year.

 Henrik Stenson

  • This year marks the 2009 champion’s 12th appearance at THE PLAYERS.
  • He posted a final-round 63 to win The Open Championship last year, his fifth PGA TOUR title and first major championship victory.
  • Swede was second of three international players to become FedExCup champion, in 2013 (2007/Vijay Singh/Fiji, 2016 Rory McIlroy/Northern Ireland).
  • He is one of only two players to own a PLAYERS Championship title (2009) and FedExCup title (2013), joining Tiger Woods (THE PLAYERS champion in 2001, 2013; FedExCup champion in 2007, 2009).
  • Stenson became the ninth player with a victory at both THE PLAYERS (2009) and The Open Championship (2016). The others are Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman, Justin Leonard, Tiger Woods, Nick Price and David Duval.
  • In seven starts on TOUR this season he has recorded two top-10 finishes (T2/WGC-HSBC Champions, T7/Valspar Championship) but he has missed the cut in his last four starts.

Rickie Fowler

  • In seven starts at THE PLAYERS, Rickie Fowler has finished 1st (2015), T2 (2012), T77 (2014), and missed four cuts.
  • During his victory in 2015 Fowler played the 17th hole six times including the two playoff holes and recorded five birdies on those six attempts. He birdied No. 17 in rounds 1, 2 and 4 of regulation. Only one player, Paul Azinger in 1987, has birdied No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass all four rounds of a single tournament. He also played the final four holes in birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie to force the playoff, the best finishing stretch over those holes in tournament history.
  • In 2015, Fowler was the 29th player from the United States to win the event, and the most recent American winner at TPC Sawgrass.
  • Won The Honda Classic earlier this season for his fourth career PGA TOUR title.
  • Currently ranked No. 8 in the FedExCup standings.

Kevin Chappell

  • Runner-up finish at THE PLAYERS last year was one of six he had compiled before claiming his first PGA TOUR win at the Valero Texas Open last month.
  • His T7 at the Masters last month was his third career top-10 in a major championship (T3/2011 U.S. Open, T10/2012 U.S. Open).
  • Recorded three eagles at THE PLAYERS last year for the first time in a PGA TOUR event. Eagled Nos. 2 and 16 in the second round, and No. 11 in the final round to become one of seven players with three eagles in a single PLAYERS Championship.

 

First-time participants at THE PLAYERS

  • It’s an impressive list of first-time participants at this year’s PLAYERS with five of this season’s PGA TOUR winners, Wesley Bryan, Cody Gribble, Mackenzie Hughes, Jon Rahm and Cameron Smith, headlining the group.
  • Several additional international players, including, Alex Noren (Sweden), Tyrrell Hatton (England), Tyrone Van Aswegen (South Africa), Yuta Ikeda (Japan) and Tommy Fleetwood (England) will also make their first appearance at THE PLAYERS.
  • Others at TPC Sawgrass to compete for the first time include Grayson Murray, Andrew Loupe, Patrick Cantlay, Blayne Barber, Mark Hubbard, Michael Kim, Brett Stegmaier and Luke List.

Wesley Bryan

  • Last season’s Web.com Tour leading money winner Wesley Bryan made his PGA TOUR debut the 2016 FedEx St. Jude Classic. Bryan and his older brother George co-founded the social media sensation “Bryan Bros Golf,” where the duo put forth trick shot videos featured on worldwide social media outlets. The brothers from Chapin, South Carolina, rose to internet fame virtually overnight after competing on the mini-tours for several years. This season, Bryan has climbed to No. 15 in the FedExCup standings thanks to four top-10 finishes, including his first PGA TOUR victory at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head last month.

Patrick Cantlay

  • Patrick Cantlay, 24, was the number one golfer in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for 55 weeks. He finished in the top-25 of his first four PGA TOUR events as an amateur in 2011, including being the low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open. The following week, he shot the lowest round in PGA TOUR history by an amateur, a course record 60 at the Travelers Championship. In 2012, he decided to forgo his final two years of college (UCLA) to turn professional. Since then, he’s made 25 more PGA TOUR starts while posting a best finish of runner-up at the 2017 Valspar Championship. He also has a victory on the Web.com Tour where he’s played 13 events. At the 2013 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational he was forced to withdraw due to a back injury, later diagnosed as a stress fracture. He tried to play through the injury but it flared up again at the 2014 OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He had 10 events in the 2016-17 season to earn 389 FedExCup points or $624,746 to clear the top finishers from Web.com Tour Medical category and successfully met those requirements with the runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship in his second start this season.

Jon Rahm 

  • First-year member Jon Rahm, 22, will make his tournament debut. Currently No. 4 in the FedExCup, Rahm won his maiden PGA TOUR victory at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open. He then went on to finish in the top-five in three of his next four events, including a runner-up at the World Golf Championship-Dell Technologies Match Play, where he lost to Dustin Johnson in the final.

 

 

Miscellaneous tournament stats

  • The best scoring average (8 rounds minimum) at TPC Sawgrass belongs to Justin Thomas with 70.13. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama with 70.33 is next best. Apart from Brendon Steele leading the FedExCup standings for one week after winning the season-opening event, Thomas and Matsuyama battled each other for the top spot in the FedExCup standings for the early part of the season until Dustin Johnson took over the No. 1 position after winning the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
  • Only two albatrosses  have been recorded in the history of THE PLAYERS, and they came in back-to-back rounds. In 2007, Hunter Mahan made a 2 at the par-5 11th hole in round two before Peter Lonard duplicated the feat at the second hole in round three.
  • There have been five wire-to-wire winners in PLAYERS history: Al Geiberger (1975), Greg Norman (1994), Steve Elkington (1997), Hal Sutton (2000) and Jason Day (2016).
  • Tiger Woods (2001, 2013), Davis Love III (2003, 1992), Steve Elkington (1991, 1997), Hal Sutton (1983, 2000), Fred Couples (1984, 1996) and Jack Nicklaus (1974, 1976 and 1978) are players with multiple wins at THE PLAYERS Championship.
  • With a win this week at TPC Sawgrass, Brian Harman, who won last week’s Wells Fargo Championship, would become the fourth player to win the week before and the week of THE PLAYERS (Raymond Floyd – 1981 Doral-Eastern-Open, Tom Kite – 1989 Arnold Palmer Invitational and Tiger Woods – 2001 Arnold Palmer Invitational).
  • No player has gone all four rounds without a bogey at THE PLAYERS Championship. Greg Norman came the closest in 1994 with a single bogey in the final round on No. 13. He posted the tournament 72-hole record that year, 24-under 264.
  • Prior to the 2016 tournament, no player had recorded a sub-30 score on the back nine at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course. Three players achieved the feat in 2016: Shane Lowry (first round), Rory McIlroy (second round) and Kevin Chappell (second round). Martin Kaymer, with a 7-under 29, remains the only player with a sub-30 score on the front nine (first round).
  • The 36-hole cut has been below par just twice in the last 20 PLAYERS Championships – 2-under 142 in 2010 and again last year.
  • Americans have won THE PLAYERS Championship four times in the last 12 years: Rickie Fowler (2015), Tiger Woods (2013), Matt Kuchar (2012) and Fred Funk (2005). International players have won nine of the last 14 PLAYERS Championships. A total of 14 international players have won THE PLAYERS Championship in the 40-year history of the event.
  • Adam Scott won THE PLAYERS in 2004 at 23 years, 8 months, 12 days, to become the youngest champion. The very next year, Fred Funk, at 48 years, 9 months and 14 days, became the oldest to win the tournament.
  • The only players who have captured their first win at THE PLAYERS Championship were Craig Perks (2002) and Tim Clark (2010).
  • Other than Jack Nicklaus, who won THE PLAYERS in its inaugural year in 1974, only Hal Sutton (1983) and Craig Perks (2002) have won the event in their first appearance.
  • Last year’s Web.com Tour Finals money leader Grayson Murray and England’s Tommy Fleetwood enter THE PLAYERS with 16 career PGA TOUR starts each. They are the two contestants with the fewest number of PGA TOUR starts in the field. England’s Tyrell Hatton (18) and No. 15 on the FedExCup standings Wesley Bryan (20) are the only other players in the field with 20 or less career TOUR starts. Adam Scott holds the record at 41 for fewest PGA TOUR starts by an eventual PLAYERS champion.

The Players Championship Preview 2017 is via PGA TOUR.

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