The Players Championship

The Players Championship (commonly known as simply The Players, stylized by the PGA Tour as The PLAYERS Championship) is an annual golf tournament on the PGA Tour. Originally known as the Tournament Players Championship, it began in 1974. The Players Championship currently offers the highest prize fund of any tournament in golf ($12.5 million in 2019), overtaking the U.S. Open which offers a $12 million purse. The field usually includes the top 50 players in the world rankings, but unlike the three major championships or two World Golf Championships events staged in the United States, it is not an official event on the European Tour.

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The Players Championship
Tournament information
LocationPonte Vedra Beach, Florida
Established1974, 45 years ago
Course(s)TPC at Sawgrass,
Stadium Course
(1982–present)
Par72
Length7,189 yards (6,574 m)[1]
Tour(s)PGA Tour
FormatStroke play
Prize fund$12.5 million
Month playedMarch
Tournament record score
Aggregate264 Greg Norman (1994)
To par−24 Greg Norman (1994)
Current champion
United States Webb Simpson
2019 Players Championship
TPC Sawgrass
Location in the United States
TPC Sawgrass
Location in Florida

The Players Championship (commonly known as simply The Players, stylized by the PGA Tour as The PLAYERS Championship) is an annual golf tournament on the PGA Tour. Originally known as the Tournament Players Championship, it began in 1974.[2] The Players Championship currently offers the highest prize fund of any tournament in golf ($12.5 million in 2019), overtaking the U.S. Open which offers a $12 million purse.[3] The field usually includes the top 50 players in the world rankings, but unlike the three major championships or two World Golf Championships events staged in the United States, it is not an official event on the European Tour.

The Players has often been considered the unofficial "fifth major" due to its prestige, its host course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (the TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course at which the tournament has been played since 1982, home of the iconic par-3 No. 17 "Island Green"), and its large purse.[4][5]

Format

As of 2019 the victor receives $2.25 million, the winner's share (18%) of the largest purse in golf ($12.5 million), and receives 80 points towards his world ranking, the largest share aside from the majors, for which winners earn 100 points. For comparison, the winners of the four individual World Golf Championships generally receive between 70 and 78 points.

The winner also receives a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour (formerly ten years),[6] a three-year invitation to the Masters Tournament, three-year exemptions for the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, and an exemption to the next three PGA Championship tournaments starting in 2018. The winner earns 600 FedEx Cup points, if a PGA Tour member.

On January 28, 2019, it was announced the 2019 Players Championship would include a $12.5 million purse, which the PGA Tour promoted as being the largest in a single professional golf tournament.[7]

Field

The field consists of 144 players consisting of the following criteria:

  1. Winners of PGA Tour events since last Players
  2. Top 125 from previous season's FedEx Cup points list
  3. Top 125 (medical)
  4. Major champions from the past five years
  5. Players Championship winners from the past five years
  6. The Tour Championship winners from the past three years
  7. World Golf Championship winners from the past three years
  8. Memorial Tournament and Arnold Palmer Invitational winners from the past three years
  9. Top 50 from the Official World Golf Ranking
  10. Senior Players champion from prior year
  11. Web.com Tour money leader from prior season
  12. Money leader during the Web.com Tour Finals, if not the regular-season money leader
  13. Top 10 current year FedEx Cup points leaders
  14. Remaining positions and alternates filled through current year FedEx Cup standings

History

The Players Championship was conceived by the PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman; the inaugural event in 1974 was played at Atlanta Country Club in Marietta, Georgia, concluding on Labor Day weekend in early September.[2] It moved to Texas for 1975, at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth in August, and then to south Florida for 1976 at Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill, at its East Course in late February.[8]

Beginning in 1977, the event moved up the coast and was played at Ponte Vedra Beach in mid-March,[9] initially at Sawgrass Country Club's Oceanside Course (a combination of the "East" and "West" 9-hole courses). Since 1982,[10][11] it has been played across the road to the west, at the Stadium Course at TPC at Sawgrass.[5] The word "Tournament" was dropped from the title following the 1987 event.

Following the 2006 event, the course underwent a major renovation, which received very positive reviews from the players in 2007. Included in the renovation was a new 77,000-square-foot (7,150 m2) Mediterranean Revival-style clubhouse.

Move to May

For the first thirty years at Ponte Vedra Beach, the championship was played in mid- to late March, several weeks before The Masters. (Three weeks prior for the first six seasons (19771982), then to two weeks in 1983.) It was moved to May in 2007, to the weekend including the second Saturday, as part of a restructuring of the PGA Tour. This restructuring involved the introduction of the lucrative FedEx Cup, which concludes with The Tour Championship. The change gave the PGA Tour a marquee event in six consecutive months (The Masters in April, The Players in May, the U.S. Open in June, The Open Championship in July, the PGA Championship in August, and the Tour Championship in September).[12]

With the rearrangement of 2007, the final round of The Players Championship was usually on the second Sunday of May, Mother's Day. To mark this, most players wore pink shirts or accessories on Sunday, and many in the galleries also joined them in donning pink garb. (The two exceptions were in 2011 and 2016, when the final round was on Sunday, May 15.)

In August 2017, it was announced that The Players would return to March beginning in 2019, due to a realignment of the golf season that moves the PGA Championship from August to May.[13][14][15]

Playoffs

The playoff format was sudden-death through 2013, lately starting at the par-3 17th hole. The format was changed to a three-hole aggregate in 2014, similar to the PGA Championship, played over the final three holes, in order. If still tied, the playoff goes to sudden-death on the same three holes, but starts at the 17th.[16]

Since moving to the Stadium Course in 1982, only four playoffs have been necessary (1987, 2008, 2011, 2015). The 1987 playoff started at the par-5 16th and went to a third extra hole at the par-4 18th, with three pars by the winner;[17][18][19] the next two ended at the first extra hole (17), also with pars by the victors. (The only playoff prior to the Stadium Course was in 1981; it also ended on the first hole with a par by the winner.)[20][21]

The 2015 playoff was the first for the three-hole aggregate and included three participants; two birdied 17 and the other player was eliminated after three holes. It went to sudden-death at 17 and became the first playoff at the Players to end with a birdie.

Defending champions

The Players has yet to produce a successful title defense; victories in consecutive years. Jack Nicklaus won three of the first five events, but in alternating years on different courses. Since moving to TPC Sawgrass in 1982, five players have won twice, but the shortest span between victories is six years (Steve Elkington: 1991, 1997).

The best finish by a defending champion is a tie for fifth place (1977, 1990, 2001) and the closest margin is four strokes behind (1977, 1981, 1989, 2005). The defending champion has missed the cut nine times, most recently in 2016, and has not participated (for health reasons) on three occasions (1983, 1998, 2014). The most recent top-ten finish was in 2005, a tie for eighth place.

Venues

YearsEventsVenueCityState
1982201837TPC Sawgrass, Stadium CoursePonte Vedra
Beach
Florida
197719815Sawgrass Country Club
19761Inverrary Country Club, East CourseLauderhill
19751Colonial Country ClubFort WorthTexas
19741Atlanta Country ClubMariettaGeorgia

Course lengths

YearsEventsLengthVenue
2017201827,189 yards (6,574 m)TPC Sawgrass
Stadium
Course
20072016107,215 yards (6,597 m)
200617,098 yards (6,490 m)
1999200577,093 yards (6,486 m)
199816,950 yards (6,355 m)
1990199786,896 yards (6,306 m)
1982198986,857 yards (6,270 m)
1980198127,000 yards (6,400 m)Sawgrass CC
197917,083 yards (6,477 m)
1977197827,174 yards (6,560 m)
197617,128 yards (6,518 m)Inverrary CC
197517,190 yards (6,575 m)Colonial CC
197416,883 yards (6,294 m)Atlanta CC
  • Par 72, except for 1975 (par 70)

Winners

YearPlayerCountryScoreTo parMargin
of victory
Runner(s)-upWinner's
share ($)
Purse ($)
The Players Championship
20192,250,00012,500,000
2018Webb Simpson United States270−184 strokesUnited States Xander Schauffele
South Africa Charl Schwartzel
United States Jimmy Walker
1,980,00011,000,000
2017Kim Si-woo South Korea278−103 strokesSouth Africa Louis Oosthuizen
England Ian Poulter
1,890,00010,500,000
2016Jason Day Australia273−154 strokesUnited States Kevin Chappell1,890,00010,500,000
2015Rickie Fowler United States276−12PlayoffSpain Sergio García
United States Kevin Kisner
1,800,00010,000,000
2014Martin Kaymer Germany275−131 strokeUnited States Jim Furyk1,800,00010,000,000
2013Tiger Woods (2) United States275−132 strokesSweden David Lingmerth
United States Jeff Maggert
United States Kevin Streelman
1,710,0009,500,000
2012Matt Kuchar United States275−132 strokesUnited States Ben Curtis
United States Rickie Fowler
United States Zach Johnson
Scotland Martin Laird
1,710,0009,500,000
2011K. J. Choi South Korea275−13PlayoffUnited States David Toms1,710,0009,500,000
2010Tim Clark South Africa272−161 strokeAustralia Robert Allenby1,710,0009,500,000
2009Henrik Stenson Sweden276−124 strokesEngland Ian Poulter1,710,0009,500,000
2008Sergio García Spain283−5PlayoffUnited States Paul Goydos1,710,0009,500,000
2007Phil Mickelson United States277−112 strokesSpain Sergio García1,620,0009,000,000
2006Stephen Ames Canada274−146 strokesSouth Africa Retief Goosen1,440,0008,000,000
2005Fred Funk United States279−91 strokeEngland Luke Donald
United States Tom Lehman
United States Scott Verplank
1,440,0008,000,000
2004Adam Scott Australia276−121 strokeRepublic of Ireland Pádraig Harrington1,440,0008,000,000
2003Davis Love III (2) United States271−176 strokesUnited States Jay Haas
Republic of Ireland Pádraig Harrington
1,170,0006,500,000
2002Craig Perks New Zealand280−82 strokesTrinidad and Tobago Stephen Ames1,080,0006,000,000
2001Tiger Woods United States274−141 strokeFiji Vijay Singh1,080,0006,000,000
2000Hal Sutton (2) United States278−101 strokeUnited States Tiger Woods1,080,0006,000,000
1999David Duval United States285−32 strokesUnited States Scott Gump900,0005,000,000
1998Justin Leonard United States278−102 strokesUnited States Glen Day
United States Tom Lehman
720,0004,000,000
1997Steve Elkington (2) Australia272−167 strokesUnited States Scott Hoch630,0003,500,000
1996Fred Couples (2) United States270−184 strokesScotland Colin Montgomerie
United States Tommy Tolles
630,0003,500,000
1995Lee Janzen United States283−51 strokeGermany Bernhard Langer540,0003,000,000
1994Greg Norman Australia264−244 strokesUnited States Fuzzy Zoeller450,0002,500,000
1993Nick Price Zimbabwe270−185 strokesGermany Bernhard Langer450,0002,500,000
1992Davis Love III United States273−154 strokesAustralia Ian Baker-Finch
United States Phil Blackmar
England Nick Faldo
United States Tom Watson
324,0001,800,000
1991Steve Elkington Australia276−121 strokeUnited States Fuzzy Zoeller288,0001,600,000
1990Jodie Mudd United States278−101 strokeUnited States Mark Calcavecchia270,0001,500,000
1989Tom Kite United States279−91 strokeUnited States Chip Beck243,0001,350,000
1988Mark McCumber United States273−154 strokesUnited States Mike Reid225,0001,250,000
Tournament Players Championship
1987Sandy Lyle Scotland274−14PlayoffUnited States Jeff Sluman180,0001,000,000
1986John Mahaffey United States275−131 strokeUnited States Larry Mize162,000900,000
1985Calvin Peete United States274−143 strokesUnited States D. A. Weibring162,000900,000
1984Fred Couples United States277−111 strokeUnited States Lee Trevino144,000800,000
1983Hal Sutton United States283−51 strokeUnited States Bob Eastwood126,000700,000
1982Jerry Pate United States280−82 strokesUnited States Brad Bryant
United States Scott Simpson
90,000500,000
1981Raymond Floyd United States285−3PlayoffUnited States Barry Jaeckel
United States Curtis Strange
72,000440,000
1980Lee Trevino United States278−101 strokeUnited States Ben Crenshaw72,000440,000
1979Lanny Wadkins United States283−55 strokesUnited States Tom Watson72,000440,000
1978Jack Nicklaus (3) United States289+11 strokeUnited States Lou Graham60,000300,000
1977Mark Hayes United States289+12 strokesUnited States Mike McCullough60,000300,000
1976Jack Nicklaus (2) United States269−193 strokesUnited States J. C. Snead60,000300,000
1975Al Geiberger United States270−103 strokesUnited States Dave Stockton50,000250,000
1974Jack Nicklaus United States272−162 strokesUnited States J. C. Snead50,000250,000

Note: Green highlight indicates scoring records.
Sources[22][23]

Multiple winners

Six players have won the tournament more than once:

Nicklaus won in alternating years at three different venues, but never at the Stadium Course, where the rest won both titles. The shortest span between wins at the Stadium Course is six years (Elkington) and the longest is seventeen years (Sutton).

Tournament highlights

Phil Mickelson with the 2007 Players Championship trophy
  • 1974: Jack Nicklaus wins the inaugural edition of the tournament. He beats J.C. Snead by two shots near Atlanta.[24]
  • 1977: Mark Hayes wins by two shots over Mike McCullough at Sawgrass Country Club, despite shooting the highest winning score on the PGA Tour, 289, since Nicklaus at the 1972 U.S. Open.[25]
  • 1978: Jack Nicklaus wins his third Tournament Players Championship title. He edges Lou Graham by one shot.[26]
  • 1979: Bob Murphy, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, shoots a final round 92. Winds were gusting up to 45 miles per hour that day.[27]
  • 1980: Playing in a final threesome with Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino shoots a final round 70 to edge Ben Crenshaw by one shot.[28]
  • 1981: Raymond Floyd defeats Curtis Strange and Barry Jaeckel on the first hole of a sudden death playoff. In addition to the tournament title, Floyd collects an additional $250,000 bonus due to his win at the Doral-Eastern Open the week before.[29]
  • 1982: After winning the first tournament at the Stadium Course by two shots over Brad Bryant and Scott Simpson, Jerry Pate tosses PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman and course architect Pete Dye into the water adjacent to the 18th green before jumping in himself.[10][11]
  • 1983: Hal Sutton wins by one shot over Bob Eastwood. John Cook came to the 72nd hole tied for the lead with Sutton before hitting his tee shot in the water on his way to a double bogey.[30]
  • 1984: Fred Couples shoots a course record 64[31] during the second round of play on his way to a one-shot victory over Lee Trevino.[32]
  • 1986: John Mahaffey wins by one shot over Larry Mize after Mize makes bogey on four of the last five holes during the final round of play.[33]
  • 1987: Sandy Lyle defeats Jeff Sluman with a par on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff. At the playoff's second hole, Sluman stood over a 6-foot (1.8 m) birdie putt to win, and a spectator jumped into the water surrounding the 17th green. He backed away, then missed.[17][18][19]
  • 1988: Jacksonville area resident Mark McCumber wins by four shots over Mike Reid.[34]
  • 1989: Tom Kite wins for the second consecutive week. He beats Chip Beck by one shot.[35]
  • 1991: Steve Elkington wins by one shot over Fuzzy Zoeller. Phil Blackmar had solo possession of the lead before hitting his tee shot into the water on the 71st hole resulting in a double bogey.[36]
  • 1992: Mark Calcavecchia and John Daly, the first pair on the final day of the tournament, are reprimanded by Deputy PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem "for failure to exert their best effort" after they finish their 18 holes of golf in only two hours and three minutes.[37]
  • 1994: Greg Norman shoots the 72-hole record score for the tournament, 264, on his way to a four shot victory over Fuzzy Zoeller.[38]
  • 1995: After Norman's record score, the course is made tougher by the creation of new, rock hard greens. Lee Janzen shoots 283 to win the tournament, the biggest one-year swing for a tournament played on the same layout in PGA Tour history.[39]
  • 1996: Twelve years after his first win at the TPC at Sawgrass, Fred Couples triumphs again. He shoots a final round 64 to beat Colin Montgomerie and Tommy Tolles by four shots.[40]
  • 1999: David Duval wins by two shots over Scott Gump. The win by Duval propels him to #1 in the World rankings.[41]
  • 2000: Hal Sutton wins at the TPC at Sawgrass for a second time. He edges Tiger Woods by one shot.[42]
  • 2002: Playing for the first time ever in The Players Championship, Craig Perks finishes eagle-birdie-par to win by two shots over Stephen Ames. It is the only PGA Tour win for Perks.[43]
  • 2003: Davis Love III wins The Players Championship for a second time. He shoots a final round 64 to win by six shots over Jay Haas and Pádraig Harrington.[44]
  • 2004: In spite of hitting his 2nd shot at the 72nd hole into the water, Adam Scott is able to get it up and down for bogey to win by one shot over Pádraig Harrington.[45]
  • 2005: Fred Funk becomes the tournament's oldest champion by edging Tom Lehman, Luke Donald, and Scott Verplank by one shot. During the final round, Bob Tway hits four balls into the water surrounding the 17th green, scoring a twelve on the hole.[46]
  • 2010: After 206 career PGA Tour starts, Tim Clark breaks through for his first Tour win.
  • 2011: K. J. Choi becomes the first Asian born golfer to win The Players Championship. He defeats David Toms on the first hole of a sudden death playoff.[47]
  • 2013: Roberto Castro ties the course record with a 9-under 63 in the opening round.[48] Sergio García, tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 13-under par going to the par-3 17th hole in the final round, puts two balls into the water. Tiger Woods wins the event for the first time since 2001. It is his 78th career PGA Tour win in his 300th start.
  • 2014: Ongoing injuries prevent Tiger Woods from defending his title. In the first round, Martin Kaymer ties the course record with a 63 matching Fred Couples (1992), Greg Norman (1994) and Roberto Castro (2013).[49] Kaymer goes on to win wire-to-wire.
  • 2015: Following a three-way tie at 12-under par in regulation play, the tournament's first aggregate three-hole playoff over holes 16–18 is conducted between Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner and Sergio García. Kisner and Fowler both go par-birdie-par to end the playoff at 1-under par, while García can only muster three pars to finish at even par and is eliminated. The playoff continues into sudden death, starting at the 17th, where both Kisner and Fowler have birdie opportunities. Kisner's birdie try from about 12 feet is unsuccessful, while Fowler's effort, inside of five feet, drops home for the victory.[50]
  • 2017: 21-year-old Kim Si-woo becomes the event's youngest winner.

References

  1. "Stadium Course". TPC Sawgrass. (scorecard). November 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  2. 1 2 Biggers, Don (June 23, 1974). "Move over 'big four,' here comes another". Rome News-Tribune. Georgia. p. 1C.
  3. http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/the-players-championship.html
  4. Crouse, Karen (May 7, 2013). "Men's Fifth Major May Remain Mythical". The New York Times. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  5. 1 2 Burke, Monte (May 9, 2012). "The Players Championship Is Not The "5th Major," But It's Still A Great Tournament". Forbes. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  6. "Rich TPC locates champion in Love". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Knight-Ridder. March 30, 1992. p. C1.
  7. Zak, Sean (January 28, 2019). "Players Championship upgrades purse to biggest in single-event history". Golf.com.
  8. "Inverrary event wants to join pro golf's 'big four'". Boca Raton News. Florida. UPI. February 24, 1976. p. 7.
  9. Murray, Jim (March 28, 1977). "Pro golf heavyweights can't duck Sawgrass course". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. (Los Angeles Times). p. 5C.
  10. 1 2 Boswell, Tom (March 22, 1982). "Splish, splash! Pate is the winner with a wet, wild finish". Milwaukee Journal. (Washington Post). p. 3, part 3.
  11. 1 2 "Beaman, Dye celebrate with Pate". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. March 22, 1982. p. 15.
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-03-14. Retrieved 2006-02-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. Shedloski, Dave (August 7, 2017). "The PGA Championship is moving to May and players are on board". Golf Digest. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  14. "P.G.A. Championship Will Move from August to May in 2019". The New York Times. Reuters. August 8, 2017. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  15. Herrington, Ryan (August 7, 2017). "The PGA Championship will be moving to May, sources say". Golf Digest. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
  16. Martin, Sean (April 16, 2014). "The Players Championship announces change to playoff format". PGA Tour. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  17. 1 2 "Lyle wins TPC in extra holes". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. March 30, 1987. p. 3, part 2.
  18. 1 2 Fowler, Bob (March 30, 1987). "Fan's dive kept Lyle afloat". Spokane Chronicle. (Orlando Sentinel). p. C2.
  19. 1 2 White, Gordon S., Jr. (March 30, 1987). "Lyle wins T.P.C. in playoff". New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  20. "Floyd wins playoff for record payoff - $322,000". Chicago Tribune. wire services. March 24, 1981. p. 3, sec. 6.
  21. "Floyd recoups his losses, takes golf's biggest check". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. March 24, 1981. p. 4C.
  22. The Players Championship – Winners – at www.pgatour.com
  23. The Players Championship – Winners Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine – at golfobserver.com
  24. 'Hungry' Nicklaus wins
  25. Hayes uses wind in surprising win over talented field
  26. Nicklaus not up to par
  27. Wadkins survives elements to win by five-strokes
  28. Trevino tames Sawgrass
  29. Record payoff for Floyd
  30. Sutton gets lucky to win rich tour players' toruney
  31. Couples shoots 64 to take lead of two strokes
  32. Fred Couples shows he can handle the pressure
  33. Mahaffey tops $2-million
  34. McCumber wins, sets record
  35. Players champion flying high
  36. Breakfast club putting advice gives Elkington the Players title
  37. "Love conquers all to win Players Championship". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. March 30, 1992.
  38. Norman storms to record in Players Championship
  39. Zullo, Allan, "Astonishing but True Golf Facts", Andrew McMeels Publishing, Forest Fairview, North Carolina, 2001.
  40. Couples finishes too strong to win Players Championship
  41. Perfect weekend for Duval
  42. Sutton holds on for one-stroke victory
  43. Perks wins Players Championships
  44. Love's incredible round of golf wins Players Championship
  45. Scott survives 18 to win Players Championship
  46. "Funk wins Players: Donald falls back as tournament hits home stretch". Sports Illustrated. March 28, 2005.
  47. Choi wins Players Championship
  48. DiMeglio, Steve (May 9, 2013). "Roberto Castro ties course record at Sawgrass with 63". USA Today. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  49. "Players Championship: Martin Kaymer leads after first round". BBC Sport. May 9, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  50. "Rickie Fowler rallies, overcomes 2 in playoff to claim Players". ESPN. Associated Press. May 10, 2015.

Coordinates: 30°11′53″N 81°23′38″W / 30.198°N 81.394°W / 30.198; -81.394

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