The Players Championship must be one of the best tournaments on the PGA tour. It features the top players from around the world competing on one of the most difficult courses in the world.
I had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand the entire event from start to finish. We arrived at the TPC Sawgrass course on Tuesday, just in time for the first of two days of practise rounds.
We walked the entire course and picked out viewing positions on all the key holes in preparation for the four-day long competition.
I spent a lot of time in my office, that is to say the practise facility at the Players. It is a 15-acre, state of the art practise facility which features tee decks at both ends of range. The greens are all replica greens which the players will be playing on the course. They are all small, hard, and fast, and roll at about the same speeds as the greens on the golf course. The short game practise areas also have been designed and prepared to match the conditions that the players will see on the golf course.
There has never been a back to back winner at the Players Championship. The reason is simple: the golf course is difficult. TPC Sawgrass may look beautiful, but every time you make a mistake, the course will come back and bite you! The stunning beauty of this Pete Dye course is in contrast to the sheer difficulty of its layout. The greens at the Sawgrass can best be described as treacherous. They are all quite small, hard, and fast as lightening. They are all watered from beneath the surface of each green. All the greens are double cut each night, then rolled, swept, and then double cut again in the morning, before play begins. Players that tee off in the morning will play on greens that are considered fast. As the day progresses and the winds pick up the greens become even faster and harder to hold.
There is water on all but one hole at the Players and there are enough bunkers on the course to turn a good round into a nightmare.
Long ball hitters have no advantage at the Players Championship. Every shot needs to be hit a precise distance, be it a drive, iron, or approach shot. Mistakes can and will cost you on this course. Players will constantly look in their yardage books to check both distances and notes that were made during previous rounds to avoid costly mistakes.
The only advantage that some players have had this past week has been to play in the morning. The winds generally become stronger as the day progresses, making both distance and shot lines very difficult to predict.
Going into the final round, there was only one player on final page of the leaderboard who was ranked in the top 20 players on tour. Masters champion Sergio Garcia played well going into Sunday, but was not able to compete with the likes of Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen, Kyle Stanley, and Si Woo Kim.
Kim won the Players Championship by two strokes and became the second South Korean to win the championship since K.J. Choi in 2011.
Thanks to Web.com for hosting us this week at the Players and our good friends Peter and Sharon Heming for sharing their home with us!
Next week: Getting Your Game Back in the Groove