The Players Championship: Rahm-McIlroy-Scheffler featured group leads the way at TPC Sawgrass
It’s time for Major 5 and the iconic island green at TPC Sawgrass.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of The Players Championship.
TPK Sograss | Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
K 72 | 7256 yards
Wallet: $25 million / $4.5 million
FedExCup points for the winner: 600
Betting on favorites via BetMGMPeople: Rory McIlroy (+900), John Ram, Scotty Sheffler (+1000)
Last timeout: Cam Smith dominating before LIV jump
One of Cameron Smith’s last exploits before leaving for LIV Golf was a major appearance at the Players Championship last March.
Smith beat Anirban Lahiri by a single stroke at last year’s tournament, landing eight clean shots on his last nine holes. He made 10 birdies in his last round to get to 13th of the week. Just a few months later, Smith won the British Open at St. Andrews before leaving for LIV Golf.
While Smith actually lives in Ponte Vedra Beach now, he won’t be defending his title this week.
“Look, Cam Smith did a great job in 2022,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said Tuesday. “He was a well-deserved champion. I think looking at this week and looking at the field that we have and the strength from top to bottom, I think that when we leave here on Sunday night we are going to crown another deserving champion.
“To answer your question directly, yes, it is inconvenient. But you know, ultimately, that’s the decision he made, and we have an incredible field here this week, the history and tradition that one of these 144 is going to look for. receive.”
Ram vs Sheffler vs McIlroy, again
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
This week at TPC Sawgrass, all eyes will be on the band of Rory McIlroy, Scotty Sheffler and John Rahm. The trio have absolutely dominated the sport in recent months and McIlroy and Scheffler have a real shot at topping the official world golf rankings again. In fact, there are over 100 different scenarios for Ram to lose his post.
These three are the favorites to bet this week and have been to just about every scheduled event this season so far.
“I’m approaching it this way: I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Scheffler said on Wednesday. “Rory and John are very talented golfers. I’m just looking forward to going there and watching them play and have a good time and compete together. I’m sure the fans will be watching us and it will be a lot of fun. Hopefully we can make some birds and give them a roar. Should be a lot of fun.
Even though Rahm ended his worst season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, he doesn’t think twice about this performance. After all, he has won five times in his last 10 international starts.
“I think when things have been going so well for so long, the golf gods decide to humble you a bit,” Ram said. “You know, it took my turn to put up with it for a couple of days.”
Of course, there are many other players who could win this weekend. But judging by recent history, there’s a good chance Ram, McIlroy or Sheffler will end up in the final group on Sunday.
Rory McIlroy criticized James Hahn
McIlroy seized the moment to call on James Hahn on Tuesday after Khan, who had criticized the Tour’s new rule changes earlier this month, missed the players’ meeting at TPC Sawgrass.
“You’re talking all that shit and you’re not even in the meeting?” McIlroy said via ESPN. “If you want to be informed and be part of the process… the fact that he wasn’t even in the room was a slap in the face for everyone present.”
McIlroy led the fight against the LIV Golf and helped create a new model for the Tour’s special events.
Khan, 41, criticized the changes last week.
“I hate them,” Khan. Golfweek said. “I will say exactly what 99.99% of the fans said about players leaving for the LIV Tour. If our players just said, “We’re doing this for the money,” I would treat them with much more respect. But how they hide what they are doing and try to make sure that it concerns sponsors and fans and save the events of the opposite field. I think it’s all nonsense.”
Khan wasn’t the only one who missed the players’ meeting. Justin Thomas and John Ram were absent on Tuesday, although Ram simply said it was too early for him and would rather spend time with his family instead.
Khan has won the Tour twice, most recently at the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship. Already this season, he missed five times in nine starts.
Monahan defends Tour changes
Monahan took a minute on Tuesday to defend new changes to the 2024 Tour schedule that include limited pitches and no cuts to certain specific events. The changes are a direct rebuttal to LIV Golf, which has 54-hole tournaments with no cuts.
It appears that many Tour members are behind the changes to come, even if some of them are reminiscent of what the LIV Golf is doing. However, Monahan doesn’t think so.
“I would ask you, ‘Do you think we really look the same?'” Monahan said Tuesday. “You know that the players who compete in our tournaments in this new format next year will be eligible and they will earn it by placing in the top 50 in the FedEx Cup this year as well as their performance. autumn and, ultimately, in these fluctuations. This is what this organization has always stood for.”