THE PLAYERS 2012 Pre-Tournament Notes
Dates: May 7-13
Where: THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Par/Yards: 36-36—72 / 7,215
Defending Champion: K.J. Choi
Purse: $9,500,000; Winner’s Share: $1,710,000
Format: 72-hole stroke play
How THE PLAYERS was won in 2011
K.J. Choi defeated David Toms with a par-3 on No. 17, the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, to win THE PLAYERS. With the victory Choi became the first Korean and first Asian-born winner in the 38¬year history of the event. The playoff between K.J. Choi and David Toms was just the fourth in the 38-year history of THE PLAYERS and first since Sergio Garcia defeated Paul Goydos with a par-3 on No. 17 (first playoff hole) in 2008.
More on K.J. Choi and THE PLAYERS 2011
The victory was the eighth of Choi’s career and first since the 2008 Sony Open in Hawaii, a span of 74 starts on the PGA TOUR since his last victory.
The playoff appearance was the first of Choi’s career in his 296th start on TOUR.
Choi holed a birdie putt from 10 feet, 4 inch birdie putt on No. 17 in regulation during the final round, becoming just the ninth PLAYERS champion to birdie No. 17 in the final round in the 38 year history of THE PLAYERS and first since Craig Perks in 2002.
With Choi’s victory in 2011, International players have now won THE PLAYERS in seven of the last 10 years and 12 times in the history of the event.
Entering 2011, Choi’s best result in nine previous appearances at THE PLAYERS was a T16 in 2006.
Choi played the back nine at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in 10-under for the week with 10 birdies and one eagle offset by just two bogeys (No. 15 – R2, No. 11 – R4).
David Toms converted a 17 foot, 2 inch birdie putt on No. 18 in regulation to force the playoff with Choi. The birdie was just the fourth on the finishing hole during the final round. No. 18 was the most difficult hole at TPC Sawgrass during THE PLAYERS 2011, playing to a stroke average of 4.313 and yielding only 45 birdies for the week.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, who held the 54-hole lead at 12-under 204, struggled to a final round 79 and finished T33. Since THE PLAYERS moved to TPC Sawgrass in 1982, only 11-of-30 54-hole leaders have gone on to victory.
A glance at the field
Below is a quick look at what is traditionally one of the strongest fields in golf each year
There are 49 of the top 50 in the FedExCup standings are in the field, including all of the top 10:
There are 10 former PLAYERS champions in the field -Fred Couples (1984, 1996), Davis Love III (1992, 2003), K.J. Choi (2011), Tim Clark (2010), Sergio Garcia (2008), Justin Leonard (1998), Phil Mickelson (2007), Adam Scott (2004), Henrik Stenson (2009) and Tiger Woods (2001).
Of the 145 players in the field, 101 have combined for 502 PGA TOUR career victories.
Major Championship Winners In The Field
Tiger Woods (14)
Phil Mickelson (4)
Vijay Singh (3)
Ernie Els (3)
Padraig Harrington (3)
Angel Cabrera (2)
Retief Goosen (2)
Davis Love III
Strong International presence again at THE PLAYERS 2012
A total of 52 players from 19 countries outside of the United States are in the field for THE PLAYERS 2012 and will look to continue the recent trend of players from outside the United States finding success at TPC Sawgrass. Highlighted by defending champion K.J. Choi of Korea, seven of the last 10 winners of THE PLAYERS are International players. A total of 12 International players have won THE PLAYERS IN THE 38-year history of the event.
For the second consecutive year, Australia leads the way with 10 players in the field. Tim Clark, winner of THE PLAYERS in 2010, is one of seven South Africans in the field, joining World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els and Masters runner-up Louis Oosthuizen. England will also have seven representatives in the field, including Transitions Championship winner and current World No. 1 Luke Donald.
Korea has six players in the field while Sweden has five, including 2009 PLAYERS champion Henrik Stenson. Argentina, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Spain and Denmark each have two players in the field. The other countries represented are: Canada (1), Colombia (1), Denmark (1), Fiji (1), Germany (1), India (1), Ireland (1), Italy (1), Japan (1), Venezuela (1) and Zimbabwe (1).
Noteworthy players in the field
Lee Westwood – Lee Westwood returns to THE PLAYERS after a one-year absence in 2011. In his last start in 2010, Westwood held the 54-hole lead at 14-under-par but struggled to a final-round 74 and finished T4. In nine appearances at THE PLAYERS, Westwood has posted three top 10s with the T4 in 2010 his best finish. In his last start on the PGA TOUR, Westwood finished T3 at the Masters, his seventh top-three finish in a major championship since the start of the 2008 season.
Phil Mickelson – Winner of THE PLAYERS in 2007, Phil Mickelson moved to ninth all-time with his 40th PGA TOUR victory earlier this year at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Mickelson has not finished in the top 10 and only posted two rounds in the 60s (66 – R3 2010, 69 – R3 2011) since his victory in 2007. In addition to his victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Mickelson also finished runner-up at the Northern Trust Open.
Tiger Woods – Tiger Woods claimed his first PGA TOUR victory since the 2009 BMW Championship earlier this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. Winner of THE PLAYERS in 2001, Woods has posted just one top 10 at TPC Sawgrass since his victory, a solo 8th in 2009. Woods has been forced to withdraw from THE PLAYERS in each of the last two years due to injury.
Rory McIlroy – A winner earlier this year at The Honda Classic, his third PGA TOUR title since the start of the 2010 season, Rory McIlroy returns to THE PLAYERS after a one-year absence in 2011. In search of his first made cut at TPC Sawgrass, McIlroy has not broken par in four-career rounds at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. In addition to his victory at The Honda Classic, McIlroy was runner-up to Hunter Mahan at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and to Rickie Fowler at last week’s Wells Fargo Championships, as well as third at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
Steve Stricker – Making just his eighth start of the season, Steve Stricker enters THE PLAYERS with the longest current streak of consecutive cuts made on the PGA TOUR with 49. Stricker earned his fifth victory since the start of 2010, most on TOUR, when he captured the Hyundai Tournament of Champions to start the season. He picked up a solo 6th in his last start at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. In 15 starts at THE PLAYERS, Stricker has just one top 10, a T6 in 1999.
Jason Dufner – Jason Dufner arrives at THE PLAYERS fresh off his first PGA TOUR victory two weeks ago at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, besting Ernie Els in a playoff. Dufner, who got married last week and did not play the Wells Fargo Championship, recorded his best finish at THE PLAYERS in 2011, a T6.
Source: PGA Tour