It’s time for the “big fifth” and the iconic island green at TPC Sawgrass.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the Players Championship.
Equestrian game details
The laughter of the players
TPC Sawgrass | Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Par 72 | 7,256 yards
Bag: $25 million / $4.5 million
FedExCup points for the winner: 600
Bet Favorites (by BetMGM): Rory McIlroy (+900), Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler (+1,000)
Last time out: Cam Smith dominates before Liv jumps
One of Cameron Smith’s last feats before leaving LIV Golf was a huge result at The Players Championship last March.
Smith beat Anirban Lahiri by one stroke in last year’s tournament after making eight one-putts in the last nine holes. He made 10 birdies in his final round to get to 13-under on Saturday. A few months later, Smith won the British Open at St. Andrews and then went on to LIV Golf.
While Smith currently lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, he is not in the field this week to defend his title.
“Listen, Cam Smith had a great performance in 2022,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said Tuesday. “He was a deserved champion. I think I look at this week and the field we have here and the strength from top to bottom, I think when we leave here on Sunday night we’re going to be crowned another worthy champion.
“To answer your question directly, yes, it’s awkward. But you know, in the end, the decision he made, and we’ve had an incredible field here this week and history and tradition is going to be one of those 144. accept.”
Rahm vs. Scheffler vs. McIlroy, again
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
All eyes will be on the Rory McIlroy-Scottie Scheffler-Jon Rahm group this week at TPC Sawgrass. The trio has absolutely dominated the game in recent months, and both McIlroy and Scheffler have real stories to go to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking once again. In fact, there are more than 100 different scenarios possible for Rahm to lose his post.
There are three betting favorites this week, as they have been for almost every scheduled event so far this season.
“I’m going to approach it the way I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Scheffler said Wednesday. “Rory and Jon are very talented golfers. I’m just looking forward to going out there and watching them play and have a good time there and competing together. I’m sure there will be fans watching us, and it will be a lot of fun. Hopefully we can make some birdies and give some noises. To be a real estate agent.
Even though Rahm is coming off the worst finish of his season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, he doesn’t think twice about that outcome. After all, he has won five times in his last 10 internationals.
“I think when things have been going so well for so long, the golf gods decide to humble you a little bit,” Rahm said. “It took, you know, my turn to suffer it for two days.”
There are certainly plenty of others in the field who could win this weekend. But based on recent history, there’s a pretty good chance Rahm, McIlroy or Scheffler will make it into the final group on Sunday.
Rory McIlroy beats James Hahn
McIlroy took the opportunity to call out James Hahn on Tuesday after Hahn, who criticized the Tour’s new rule changes earlier this month, booed the players meeting at TPC Sawgrass.
“I love you, you say, all this and you are not in a meeting?” McIlroy said, via ESPN. “If you want to be informed and be a part of the process … the fact that there was no slap in the room in front of everyone there.”
McIlroy led the charge against LIV Golf and helped create a new event design model.
Hahn, 41, pushed for these changes last week.
“I hate them,” Hahn said golf week. “I’m going to say what 99.99% of the players said about the players at the LIV Tour. If our players just said, “We’re making this money,” I want to watch a lot for them. But how do they weave what they’re doing and try to do something about sponsors and fans and saving things on the opposite side of the field. I think it’s all BS.”
Hahn wasn’t the only one who missed out on meeting the players. Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm weren’t there on Tuesday, but Rahm simply said it was too early and he’d rather spend time with his family.
Hahn has won twice on Tour, most recently at the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship. Five times in nine starts already this season.
Monahan defends the Tour’s changes
Monahan took a minute on Tuesday to defend the Tour’s new schedule changes in 2024, which include limited fields and no cuts to certain designated events. Changes such as direct criticism to LIV Golf, which has 54-holes, do not dissect the results.
There seem to be more on the Tour that are coming after the adaptations, even if some of them are similar to what the LIV Golf does. But Monahan doesn’t see it that way.
“I ask you, ‘Do you think we’re really going to look the same?'” Monahan said on Tuesday. by way of conduct. in the fall and finally in these oscillations. That’s what this institution has always stood for.”