A record round and three aces: The best and worst of Sawgrass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida. While Scotty Scheffler was running off with a five-time victory over the Players to take his sixth PGA Tour win in 13 months, there was still a lot of drama on the leaderboard.

With only two weeks left to reach the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings and receive an invitation to the Masters, the first major tournament of the season, a handful of players have the opportunity to comfortably climb above the line.

PGA Tour rookie Taylor Montgomery was 7 under to start the final round. He was 1 over through his first five holes, but then birdied at Nos. 7, 9, 11, and 14. He was tied for sixth and was also expecting a good payout. Fifth place generated $1.025 million; 10th place – $681,250

Then things fell apart for the former UNLV star. After Montgomery made a par-4 bogey on the 15th, he made a double 7 bogey on the 16th. Then, on the iconic 17th par-3, he hit the water twice and got a quad bogey 7.

Montgomery finished in a tie for 44th. He is ranked 56th in the world rankings, and he has something to do in the next couple of weeks.

Australian Min Woo Lee, who started the final round 2 shots behind Scheffler, hit a triple 7 on the fourth hole and a double 7 on the 11th. He scored 4 over 76 and finished sixth with 8 under. Lee, who is on the DP World Tour, had to finish fourth or higher in order to receive special temporary membership on the PGA Tour.

Lee, the younger brother of LPGA star Minji Lee, climbed to No. 45 in the world and earned a spot in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in two weeks. He is also in good shape for an invitation to the Masters.

“Yes, I’m excited,” Lee said. “Hopefully I can play well in the next few PGA Tour events I’m in and I can play here.”

dream island

On the 17th hole of the stadium course, it didn’t take long for the ace to be dealt. Hayden Buckley, one of the second groups on Thursday morning, hit the 11th ace on the iconic hole.

Englishman Aaron Rye made another in the third round on Saturday. This was the first time since the Players had been held at TPC Sawgrass, on the 17th there were two holes in one in one tournament. Then former Duke player Alex Smalley added a third, with an even more difficult pin position in the center right of the green.

Smalley jammed his ace between the double scarecrow on the 16th and the scarecrow on the 18th. It was the first hole in one spot of his PGA Tour career. His parents and sister were near the hole when he made it.

“I saw them walking down the 17th Street cart lane,” Smalley said. “They seemed very excited. Pretty awesome. It was very neat.”

On Sunday, another 13 balls hit the water, bringing the 72-hole total to 58, one more than last year.

PGA Tour Power Ranking

1. Scotty Sheffler

He won for the sixth time in 13 months at the Players, earning a $4.5 million salary. Sheffler and Tiger Woods are the only players to win Masters and Players tournaments before they turn 27. Scheffler will once again become the defending champion when he wins the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas March 22-25.

2. John Ram

Ram had to withdraw from the Players before the second round due to stomach problems. This ended his streak of 25 consecutive cuts, the longest active streak on the PGA Tour.

3. Rory McIlroy

McIlroy’s game is not at its best less than a month after the Masters. He is unhappy with his new TaylorMade driver; this week he ranked 117th in driving accuracy, hitting just 13 of 28 fairways. He also lost nearly 2½ fielding shots in putting.

4. Max Homa

Homa did not compete on the TPC Sawgrass after shooting at equal par in each of the first two rounds. But he was 8 short of the last 36 holes and finished sixth. It was his fifth top 10 in nine tour starts that season.

5. Tony Finau

Finau is back in the top 25, finishing eighth in nine starts this season, having lost 7 points less in the last two rounds of the Players. He finished 19th in the 1 under ranking.

6. Colleen Morikawa

Morikawa seemed to have the ballpark figured out when he recorded 7-65 in the first round. He wasn’t as good on the last 54 holes and tied for 13th, 7 behind.

7. Viktor Hovland

Hovland has not won on tour since the Mayakob World Tech Championship in November 2021. But with three straight top 20s against strong fields, including a tie for third in the Players, his game seems to be on the mend.

8. Patrick Cantley

Cantley may not be playing as the #4 player in the world, but he’s been pretty good lately. His last three finishes were third in solo at the Genesis, a fourth-place tie at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and a tie at 19th at the Players, where he generally didn’t play very well.

9. Xander Schauffele

Another player who didn’t deal much damage at TPC Sawgrass, Schauffele had two good rounds at the weekend and finished in a draw, ranked 19th in the 6 below. It was a good effort after a couple of so-so launches.

10. Tom Kim

Kim tied for 51st in the Players, which was not much of a surprise for his first start in the tournament. But he won the Shriners Children’s Open in October and has three top 10s and five top 25s in 10 starts.

Hutton’s big day

It’s not often you see a smile on Tyrrell Hatton’s face or hear him praise a golf course. But the Englishman had plenty to rejoice after finishing second behind Scheffler. He earned $2.725 million for his efforts.

It was the third round runner-up of Hatton’s career. He set a Players record (since he moved to TPC Sawgrass in 1982) with 29 points on Sunday. He had seven birds and no ghosts on the last nine holes.

“I mean, given where I was at the top of the back nine, I was probably in 34th place or something,” Hatton said. “If you said you would finish second in a tournament or tie [for] second and you don’t have to play back nine, I think you would take that.”

It was Hatton’s first top 10 in his six Players starts. He missed three times.

“Yes, it’s funny, it probably sounds terrible to say something positive, but this is one of my favorite golf courses,” Hutton said. “While I haven’t done it in general, except for this week and last year, I don’t think I’ve done very well here in the past. There are a couple of tee shots that I probably struggle with more than other guys that are more natural right to left or ball boxes.

“But I think it’s such a beautiful golf course, visually appealing, I mean, except for 8. We don’t need 235-yard par-3s, it spoils it a bit. I have to say something negative, obviously. But yes, I like the golf course.”

One for the ages

Jerry Kelly, 56, qualified for the players by winning the Senior Players Championship at the PGA Tour Champions last season. A three-time PGA Tour winner, Kelly finished second after 36 holes.

Kelly became the oldest player ranked by the Players at 56 years, 3 months and 16 days old. Arnold Palmer set the previous mark of 55 years, 6 months and 19 days in 1985.

Kelly hit 3-69 in the third round and matched par 72 in the last. He finished 54th, 1 less behind after 72 holes. It raised $58,000, which was more than Justin Thomas and McIlroy combined.

The best of the weekend

Best Round

On Saturday, Tom Hoge set a stadium field record with 10 players under 62. Nine players, including Greg Norman, Brooks Kepka and Dustin Johnson, set the previous record of 9 players under 63.

best ending

Englishman Aaron Rye became the first Players member to finish the round with a 16 birdie, 17 ace and 18 birdie on Saturday.

best drive

Homa took pin hunting to a whole new level with a 12th-place finish on Sunday.

Best Approach

Justin Thomas didn’t have a good week, but it was a good moment.

Best Chip

There was nothing about TPC Sawgrass that Scheffler couldn’t do.

best hit

Ming Woo Lee landed nearly 300 feet of punches in the first three rounds.

Worst hole

Aaron Wise survived the Tin Cup nightmare in the first round. He made three tee shots into the water and hit 10 on the 18th par-4 hole.

Worst Round

Max McGreevy went 3-69 in the first round and was down 20 shots in the second. His 17-of-89 was the worst round in Players history; Michael Campbell was also 17 over in the first round in 2003. McGreevy hit the ninth hole, his last to avoid the 90.

The Best of Social Media

A hero in many ways: Active Marine Matt Cutler saved Jordan Spit’s weekend when a tee bounced off his knee on the fly on the ninth hole on Friday, preventing his ball from hitting the water. In the end, Spit chipped in for the eagle and comfortably won.


Give him an A for his effort.

It was Trevor Lawrence’s home game.


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