The strongest field in golf
Golf’s best head to the iconic TPC Sawgrass for the Players Championship, dubbed golf’s 5th major. Rickie Fowler is back to defend his breakout victory, which provided plenty of drama last year. Fowler seemed out of contention with 4 holes to play in the final round but then rattled off a birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie close to force a playoff with Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia. Garcia bowed out of the first 3-hole playoff after both Fowler and Kisner birdied the dramatic “island green” par 3 17th for the difference. In the sudden death playoff, Fowler again knocked it stiff on 17 to make another birdie and defeat Kisner for his signature win.
Year in and year out, the Players has the best field of any tournament in golf, and this year is no different with 46 of the world’s top 50 players teeing it up this week. The big storylines include Fowler’s attempt to become the first repeat champion, Jordan Spieth’s first start since his Augusta collapse and Danny Willett’s first start since his Masters triumph.
Pete Dye’s masterpiece, TPC Sawgrass, was the first golf course designed to provide some theater for PGA Tour events. Ample space and hills offer spectators a great view of the golf course that yields a range of champions, from bombers like Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson to shorter hitters such as K.J. Choi and Tim Clark. Sawgrass tests all aspects of a player’s game, requiring precise tee shots in order to have the correct angle to attack its small greens. Fail to execute and big numbers lie in wait. In fact, no player has ever played 4 rounds without a bogey in the history of the event. Sawgrass’ signature is its closing 3 holes: the risk/reward par 5 16th, the famous island green 17th and the challenging closing par 4 18th, all of which have proved to be quite entertaining over the years.
Early round pairings to watch
If you haven’t already, this week might be the time to download the PGA Tour Live app. Here are the early-round pairings we have our eye on.
Jordan Spieth/Jason Day/Brendan Grace
World number 1 and 2 with Spieth coming off his Masters collapse = must see TV. Don’t sleep on Brendan Grace, he won earlier this year at Harbour Town, another Dye course that values precision.
Bubba Watson/Rory McIlroy/Dustin Johnson
Bombers paradise. 3 of the world’s longest hitters paired together. This pairing should lead to plenty of Dye’s doglegs cut (or at least attempted).
Adam Scott/Rickie Fowler/Matt Kuchar
All 3 are former champions with Fowler looking to become the first repeat champion and FedEx Cup leader Adam Scott looking for his 3rd win in Florida this year.
Check out a few guys who are flying under the radar here to help save you some cash for the headliners.
This week, we are going back to our friends at 18 Strong for an exercise that will increase shoulder mobility. The more you are able to turn, the longer and more consistent your shots will fly. Check it out here.