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This week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass is always one of the most anticipated tournaments of the year.
Firstly, the event is a Major in all but name, meaning it’s guaranteed to attract the world’s best. This year is no different, with 47 of the world’s top 50 in action. Then there is the enormous purse, up from $15m last year to $20m this year. Then there's the iconic course, with the Island Green of the 17th known the world over. However, this year, there’s another level of intrigue as four players can overtake Jon Rahm as World No.1. While Rahm is currently at the summit, there are several scenarios that could see him knocked off his perch, with one of Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay and Collin Morikawa waiting to take his place.
Scheffler has plenty of momentum following his hard-earned victory at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, and he can displace Rahm if he follows that up with another win, Rahm finishes lower than outright 10th and Collin Morikawa fares worse than a three-way tie for second.
Meanwhile, Viktor Hovland will claim the World No.1 position if he wins The Players Championship or finishes runner-up outright. Another potential route to the top for Hovland is if he wins at TPC Sawgrass and Rahm fails to finish either outright runner-up, in a two-way tie for second, outright third or in a three-way tie for that position. Finally, Hovland can even take the top spot with an outright runner-up finish, but to do so he’d need an unlikely series of events to unfold - Cantlay and Scheffler to not win, Morikawa to finish lower than outright fourth and Rahm to have a real capitulation and finish lower than outright 50th!
For Cantlay, the scenario is relatively straightforward: if he wins the tournament and Rahm finishes worse than an outright runner-up position, he’s the new World No.1. However, there’s a way for Cantlay to claim the top spot even if he finishes outright second. If he does, and neither Hovland nor Scheffler win, Morikawa finishes lower than outright fourth and Rahm finishes lower than outright 37th, Cantlay will take the World No.1 honour as consolation for his near miss in the tournament.
Finally, there’s Morikawa’s opportunity to rise to the summit. There are no fewer than 18 ways for the American to do so, with most as convoluted as they are unlikely. For example, he can finish as low as a two-way tie for 4th and still find himself on top of the world if a range of events work in his favour. But the most likely way for Morikawa to be World No.1 after The Players Championship? Quite simply: win it!
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Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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