THE PLAYERS Championship 2017: 5 groups to watch in Rounds 1 & 2

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sergio Garcia 2017 Masters
Apr 9, 2017; Augusta, GA, USA; Sergio Garcia celebrates after making a putt on the 18th green during the first playoff hole to win The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott

Round 1: 1st tee, 1:41 p.m. ET

Round 2: 10th tee, 8:16 a.m. ET

Sergio Garcia leads this trio into THE PLAYERS Championship, still riding high from finally breaking through to win his first major championship last month at The Masters. But he also knows how to win at Sawgrass. His victory in 2008 was the biggest win of his career up to that point (it still ranks right up there but come on, he has a green jacket now) and he’d love nothing more than to add to his 2017 resumé with a second victory at the Stadium Course. He’s had a pair of top-15 finishes on the PGA Tour this year to go along with his win at Augusta and also won the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour. At 37, the sixth-ranked player in the world is playing some of the best golf of his career and outside of his win here, he’s been in contention numerous other times on Sunday afternoon.

World No. 11 Adam Scott still holds the distinction of being the youngest winner at THE PLAYERS, winning the 2004 event at just 23 years of age, his second win on the PGA Tour. Outside of a couple of hiccups at the Wells Fargo Championship and the WGC-Mexico Championship, the Australian has played extremely well, finishing no lower than 18th in any tournament, outside of the two previously mentioned, since last year’s PGA Championship. He tied for ninth at The Masters and although he hasn’t been in the winner’s circle in over a year, don’t be surprised if he makes some noise this week.

Matt Kuchar, currently ranked 18th in the world, most recently finished in a tie for 30th at the Wells Fargo Championship but he quite often finds his name near the top of the leaderboard in big tournaments like these, as evidenced by his T-4 finish at Augusta. And he obviously knows how to win here. A model of consistency, Kuchar shot 68-68-69-70 for a 13-under total in 2012 to win THE PLAYERS, finishing two strokes ahead of a quartet of competitors at 11-under. He finished tied for third a year ago.