May 12, 2013; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Tiger Woods accepts the trophy from Matt Kuchar (left) after winning The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Players Championship: Preview And TV Schedule

The Players Championship draws one of the best fields of the year, and is rivaled by only the PGA Championship in purse size at $10 Million Dollars with the winner banking $1.8 Million and features 600 FedEx Cup points. So it begs the question, why hasn’t this tournament actually been elevated to a real major?

The only top player in the world who won’t be teeing it up at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday morning is the world’s number one, and the defending champion, Tiger Woods.

Tiger defeated Kevin Streelman, Jeff Maggert, and David Lingmerth by two strokes in 2013 on this magnificent stadium course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida which was the brainchild of former PGA Commissioner Deane Beman, and designed by Pete Dye.

If you don’t think this 7215 yard, par 72 layout will get your attention, just ask Sergio Garcia. No two consecutive holes play in the same direction, it has doglegs in both directions, and when you play through 16 holes with a chance to win, like Sergio last year, it can all disappear like a thief in the night, at the infamous 17th hole.

Most of us could probably play golf for a lifetime with the balls that are collected around the island green. It typically only plays to 137 yards, but for years, we have all seen ball-after-ball that didn’t find the putting surface, and became product for the business of used golf balls.

An average of 48.4 balls have splashed into the water at No. 17 in the seven editions since THE PLAYERS moved to May. That includes 93 in 2007, when a wind-whipped May debut round put 50 into the pond. Last year saw 43 splashdowns. … Only three times has THE PLAYERS been won with four rounds in the 60s. Lingmerth came close last year, but closed with a 72. … Paul Azinger (1987) is the only man to birdie No. 17 in all four rounds. … Since the date change, every champion has come from behind on the final day. The last man to take a 54-hole lead all the way to the winner’s circle was Stephen Ames (2006).

Sergio Garcia and Jeff Maggert stood on the 17th tee in the final round with a share of the lead last year, and Sergio needed 13 strokes to get to the clubhouse. Tiger went par/par(seven strokes) for the victory. David Lingmerth missed a long putt at 18 to force a playoff, Maggert also lost one in the water at 17.  Tiger Woods became only the fifth player in history last year, to win the Players Championship twice.

Forty-six of the top 50 players in the world will be on-tap Thursday morning. Tiger Woods is out while he rehabs his back, and Jason Day continues to have problems with his thumb, but the world’s number two, and three, Adam Scott, and Henrik Stenson will be in the field with a chance to leave Florida with the number one ranking. Both are former champs at the Players.

I think it’s time to start thinking about making the Players Championship into a major championship. With the deep field, top prize money, and the 10-year exemption tied to it, why hasn’t the PGA and the powers to be, actually made it a major? If they did, we would still have three majors on US soil if they decide to move the PGA Championship off-shore.

It didn’t take LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan long to realize he was able to generate more interest, and attention when he elevated the Evian Championship into a major event last year.

It’s often called the fifth major anyway, why not give it the prestige and add the excitement by making it a legitimate major championship?

TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, noon-2 p.m. (GC), 2-7 p.m. (NBC).

LIVE@ ON PGATOUR.COM: Thursday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. ET. Saturday-Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. ET


Tags: 2014 Players Championship Golf PGA Tiger Woods

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