THE PLAYERS Preview
Florida Swing kicks off at TPC Sawgrass this week, with a starfield gearing up for the main event of TOUR, THE PLAYERS.
The theme of recent weeks has been increased prize pools for certain events. This event has already been promoted, but this year it has received another boost with a total prize pool of $25 million.
There were 144 golfers lined up at the start of the week and after two days of play they will be cut down to Low 65s and Ties.
TPC Sawgrass is the longtime host of THE PLAYERS and needs no introduction. It is most widely known for the iconic greenery of the island, but there is so much more to the story.
This Pete Dai design is a par 72 that plays for 7,275 yards.
There are three pair 4s that play under 400 yards, as well as trios that play over 470 yards. Nice combination of short and long holes.
There were a lot of irons and woods when played in May, but golfers are more confident pulling more drivers in March when seeding conditions are usually more receptive and softer.
Water comes into play at 17 holes, so it’s not surprising that the 2.13 for 72 holes played is 2.13 or worse, the second-highest of any regular TOUR stop behind only the PGA National.
As far as turf goes, Bermuda is the base of the field, but it’s all abandoned for the March issue of THE PLAYERS. Golfers will see ryegrass from tee to green and common bluegrass on putting surfaces. These greens are smaller than the TOUR average at 5,500 square feet and often go up to 13 feet on the tempo. Very fast.
The overall score for the environment is about on par with the average TOUR, but it definitely doesn’t feel that way on viewing. Every day you will see ultra-low results, but you will also see massive explosions when the game is all water. The two cancel each other out, creating an average scoring environment.
Looking at some past quotes, let’s try to break down the move to see how it plays out.
Justin Rose in 2020: “The key to success here is putting the ball in play from the tee. It’s also not necessarily the driver’s golf course. A 280-yard tie works really well on this course.”
Colleen Morikawa in 2022: “Everyone can play. You can play in a million different ways. It tests every aspect of your game and you can’t just make a few bad shots and walk away with parity or walk away with a bird.” even. Like you have to play really good golf. That’s what makes a great golf course.”
Justin Thomas in 2022: “I think there will definitely be more long-hit supporters in March than May, just because of how solid it will be, but you look at the winners, this is really a place that prefers a single-hit form. .”
While you need some framing here, Thomas points out that it doesn’t favor one form, you have to work both ways. Rose talks about how it’s not always a test of tenacity and tear, with many holes forcing or pushing you to less clubbing.
Using historical data, we can look at the overproduction and backlog on this week’s host course and compare it to all courses played on the TOUR. Here are the ones that are very similar:
TPC River Highlands
There isn’t one main theme, but ryegrass and flourishing in situations of risk and reward are two themes that stand out a bit.
Thursday: Variable sunny weather with a maximum of 71 degrees. Wind from 10 to 15 m/s.
Friday: Variable sunny weather with a maximum of 75 degrees. Wind from 10 to 20 m/s.
It looks like it could be a calm start to the week, but winds could pick up on Friday afternoon and continue into the weekend.
Golfers to watch
It’s mixed results for McIlroy as the event is back in March. It won the 2019 edition, skipped the 2021 selection and settled on a scruffy T33 last year. He finished second at Bay Hill and still has three wins in his last 10 world starts.
Last week, he finally looked like a man, giving way to a T39 finish at Bay Hill. He will now head to TPC Sawgrass where he finished T12, T9 and T55 in three March attempts. Nothing terrible about it, but still a little below his high standards. He still has a slight allergy to golf in Florida.
It may just be a coincidence, but he only had one top 30 out of eight attempts when he played for THE PLAYERS in May, but he has three straight top 30s since the tournament was moved to March. This includes fifth place in last year’s edition. It also arrives from Sunday 67 at Bay Hill, where it moved up from 37th to 10th.
He has been known to prefer the more strategic May conditions on the TPC Sawgrass, but that hasn’t stopped him from competing in the March events. It won the 2021 edition, placing 35th in two other recent PLAYERS. Last week he was T7 through 54 holes before disappearing on Sunday at Bay Hill.
The Australian continues to win this season, finishing T21 or better in nine of his last 10 starts. It’s like Day in his prime, only without victories. Perhaps those wins will start to add up again? He is a former TPC Sawgrass Champion (2016).
1. John Ram
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Scotty Sheffler
4. Justin Thomas
5. Tony Finau
6. Max Homa
7. Patrick Cantley
8. Will Zalatoris
9. Xander Schauffele
10. Matt Fitzpatrick
eleven. Jason Day
12. Colleen Morikawa
13. Sunjae Im
14. Tyrrell Hatton
15. Viktor Hovland
16. Cameron Young
17. Keegan Bradley
18. Tom Kim
19. Brian Harman
20. Sam Burns
20. Jordan Spit