The weather this spring in Ontario has been both cool and wet. Although many courses are open, conditions have not been great and golfers are patiently waiting for our season to finally begin.
This week, I decided to head south with my wife Lisa in search of warmer weather and to take in the 44th edition of the Players Championship.
The tournament is being played at TPC Sawgrass, the stadium course in Ponte Vedra, Florida. I have been to Sawgrass on numerous occasions but never for the tournament, which brings out some of the best players in the world.
TPC Sawgrass was built in 1980 by renowned course architect Pete Dye. Sawgrass has been the permanent home of the tournament since 1982. The course is built for spectators and can accommodate 36,000 patrons per day for the five-day event. It features one of the most challenging signature holes in golf. The island green on the par 3, 17th hole is one of the most recognized and difficult holes in golf. It plays 137 yards and the distance varies depending on the speed and direction of the winds. The tournament has been lost and even won on this hole in past years. In 2015 Ricky Fowler won the Players Championship on the 17th hole after making back-to-back birdies on this hole in a playoff.
This year the par 4, 12th hole has been redesigned. This 358-yard risk reward hole can be driven by long ball hitters, but only if they are able to hit their ball between two ponds and avoid a 75-yard fairway bunker which guards the small postage stamp green.
Jason Day will be returning to defend his 2016 title as will previous winners Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Henrick Stenson, Matt Kuchar, and Masters champion Sergio Garcia. World #1 player Dustin Johnson, who was forced to withdraw at Augusta after slipping on some stairs, is also scheduled to play this week at the Players.
The tournament and venue has several unique features and traditions. As you drive into the course the lanes are lined with banners and pictures of previous champions. The grounds are all beautifully manicured and gardens are abundant with stunning native plants and colourful flowers. Both the course and clubhouse are spectacular.
The Masters champion is presented with a green jacket, while the Players champion is awarded a red jacket and a hand-cut crystal trophy.
The winner of the Players Championship is asked to donate a club for the clubhouse trophy case. The donation best represents the club that helped make them The Players Champion.
This weekend one of the 144 competitors will be looking for a special Mother's Day present. Let’s hope that come Sunday the tournament will not only bring drama and excitement for the viewers, but also for this year’s champion.
Next Week: Tournament Highlights