Thursday, May 6, 2021

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The First Look: THE PLAYERS Championship

THE PLAYERS Championship returns to TPC Sawgrass after 2020’s unprecedented cancellation after the first round due to the emerging coronavirus pandemic. Dustin Johnson – the reigning FedExCup champion and current world No. 1 – leads a field that includes 29 of the top 30 in the current FedExCup standings and 49 of the world’s top 50.

With no champion crowned last year, Rory McIlroy – who would go on to win the FedExCup for the second time after winning THE PLAYERS in 2019 – will look to defend his title from two years ago.

FIELD NOTES: There will be 113 PGA TOUR winners teeing it up at TPC Sawgrass, tied for most of any tournament since the 2000 RBC Heritage… The only golfer not in the top 50 in the world who will not play is Matthew Wolff… Other golfers who were eligible but will not play include Zac Blair, Bud Cauley, and two-time PLAYERS Champion Tiger Woods… Ten past PLAYERS winners are in the field… The field accounts for 24 of the last 25 major titles, excluding only Woods’ 2019 Masters victory… Jerry Kelly tees it up after winning the SENIOR PLAYERS in 2020… Will Zalatoris will make his PLAYERS debut after his marked climb up the Official World Golf Ranking. Zalatoris, who still leads the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List, is 47th in the OWGR.

FEDEXCUPWinner receives 600 FedExCup points.

COURSETPC Sawgrass (Stadium), 7,189 yards, par 72. There will be a minimized fan footprint compared to years past due to COVID-19 precautions, but the iconic TOUR venue, which went through some renovations in 2016, will again provide a tough test to the best golfers in the world. This is set to be the first PLAYERS Championship completed since the passing of the course’s famed architect, Pete Dye.

STORYLINES: The winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard will earn the final spot in the field if he is not already eligible… Hideki Matsuyama shot a 9-under 63 in the first round of 2020 – tying the tournament record – before cancellation. … No golfer has won THE PLAYERS in back-to-back years, a streak that will continue in 2021, with no tournament completed in 2020… Since 2000, more than half the winners at TPC Sawgrass have been international, including four of the last six… The TOUR Policy Board amended the eligibility for THE PLAYERS to include the Top 125 Finishers from the 2019-20 FedExCup Points List, which bumped the field from its usual 144 to 154. 

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: Darkness halted the first round in 2020 with a few players still out on the course prior to the event being cancelled that night. Hideki Matsuyama fired a 9-under 63 to tie the tournament record, while Harris English, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, and former PLAYERS Champion Si Woo Kim shot 65. 

Rory McIlory won the 2019 PLAYERS by one over Jim Furyk.


HOW TO FOLLOW (All times ET)

Television: Thursday-Friday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC)

PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Groups), 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Holes), 6:40 a.m.-8 p.m. (Every Shot Live).

Saturday, 7:45 a.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Groups), 12 p.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Holes), 7:50 a.m.-8 p.m. (Every Shot Live).

Sunday, 7:45 a.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Groups), 12 p.m.-6 p.m. (Featured Holes), 7:50 a.m.-6 p.m. (Every Shot Live)

Radio: Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio).

TOURCast: Get shot-by-shot info in real time with shot tracks and video with TOURCast.

TOUR Pulse: Get the PGA TOUR app to utilize TOUR Pulse, which provides users the ability to experience a mix of content, such as video highlights, written hole summaries and stat graphics on every player after every hole they complete.

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