The Players Championship preview

The world's best will battle for the game's "unofficial fifth Major"

Martin Kaymer defends The Players Championship
Martin Kaymer defends The Players Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The PGA Tour is in Florida this week for the prestigious Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. An extremely strong field has assembled for golf’s “unofficial fifth Major,” and Martin Kaymer defends the title.

Lowdown: The PGA Tour is in Florida this week for the prestigious Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. An extremely strong field has assembled for golf’s “unofficial fifth Major,” and Martin Kaymer defends the title.

The two hottest players in world golf right now, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will tee it up at Sawgrass. 49 of the top 50 players on the Official World Golf Ranking will start and former winner Tiger Woods is in the field.

The list of winners of the Players reads like a who’s who of elite golf through the last 40+ years. Jack Nicklaus won in 1974. Since then Lanny Wadkins, Lee Trevino, Ray Floyd, Fred Couples, Sandy Lyle, Tom Kite, Nick Price, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III and Phil Mickelson have all taken the title.

Last season Germany’s Martin Kaymer held off Jim Furyk to win by a single stroke. Kaymer led by three with four holes to play but, when rain brought a 90-minute delay, the German appeared to lose his composure. He returned to the course and double-bogeyed the 15th to let Furyk back in. He almost found the water at the 17th but escaped with par and limped across the line to claim his first win in 18 months.

This event has been contested over Sawgrass’ Stadium course since 1982. A Pete Dye design, originally dating from 1979, the layout was redesigned by Dye in 2006. It’s one of the most recognisable courses on the PGA Tour and has traditionally been one of the toughest tracks on the circuit. Although, a reshaping of some greens has resulted in the opportunity for some less severe pin positions and that has meant the layout has been a little less testing over the last few seasons.

There’s a huge prize fund this week: $10 million with $1.8 million going to the winner.

The weather forecast is mixed and rain could be a factor again this year.

Venue: TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida Date: May 7-10 Course stats: par 72, 7,215 yards Purse: $10,000,000 Winner: $1,800,000 Defending Champion: Martin Kaymer (-13)

TV Coverage: Thursday 7 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm Friday 8 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm Saturday 9 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm Sunday 10 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm

Player Watch: Henrik Stenson – He won this event in 2009 and was tied for fifth in 2013. He’s had three top fives in his last four strokeplay starts.

Billy Horschel – He lives locally so knows the course well. He didn’t get past Rory McIlroy in the Match Play but he looked to be on good form.

Gary Woodland – Runner-up finish last week will give the power hitter great confidence. He was tied 11th in last year’s Players.

Key hole: 17th. One of the most famous holes in world golf, this 137-yard par 3 plays to an island green, totally surrounded by water. It may be no more than a 9-iron but, with a swirling wind and the pressures of a green or bust scenario, it’s one of the most intimidating challenges on the PGA Tour.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?