The 45th Players Championship
TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (7,189 yards, par 72).
Defending champion: Si Woo Kim. The then 21 year old from Seoul, South Korea shot 69, 72, 68 and 69, -10, to outlast Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter by 3 shots to capture the crown.
Weather: Thursday, 84 sunny, pleasant, winds, 8-14 MPH. Friday, 88, sunny, 8-14. Saturday, 85, partly sunny, winds, 8-14. Sunday, 40% chance of T-storms, Couple of showers and a T-storm chances. Winds 7-10. Winds can be tricky, particularly on the 17th where club selection is critical. It can be anywhere from a gap wedge to a 7 iron on this 137 yard classic.
TV: Thursday-Friday, 12-6 PM CT, Golf Channel. Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 PM CT, NBC.
No. 16, 523 yards, par 5:
The short par 5 is very reachable in 2, but doesn't come without it's hazards. A player going for it, and that will be the case for the contenders on Sunday, will have to contend with water to the right of the green and large oak trees on the left. Can be tricky. The green has 2 tiers. Can lead to some major dramatics leading into the next massive challenge.
No. 17, 137 yards, par 3
The Island hole will bring electric drama every day, but particularly on Sunday. The tournament has been won or lost here through the years. With winds at 8-14, Thursday-Saturday, club selection is critical. Players can either overclub and knock it over the green and into the water or underclub and come up short in the water. There is a sand trap guarding the front right of the green. The green is pretty large and there have been some major dramatics here like Tiger's "better than most" 55'er for birdie in 2001. But plenty of other players, Rickie Fowler, Sergio and many others have made dramatic shots to this green in winning the tournament Rickie did it in winning in 2015 and Sergio did it in winning in 2008. Rickie actually birdied it 3 times on Sunday in 2015, birdieing it in regulation and twice in a playoff with Sergio and Kevin Kisner. It was spectacular. It's a remarkable hole with nerves a major factor in deciding who will win the 45th Players.
No. 18, 462 yards, Par 4
A phenomenal finishing hole, one I think is the most underrated in golf just because the 17th is so revered. A dogleg left that takes major precision off the tee box as there is water running along the entire left hand side of the hole and large spectator mounds and trees on the right. A cut is required off the tee and maybe a draw if you're brave enough and that's your shot. It's such a precise driving hole and a scary one on Sundays after survival on the 17th with the tournament on the line. The second shot is to a long green with water on the left and a bunker left and log. The front of the green has spectator mounds. With the wind this is a tricky second shot as well. Awesome finishing hole for an amazing tournament.
This 24 year old has been trending very well lately. He won the John Deere Classic last year and finished 2nd at the Arnie, 3rd at the RBC Heritage and 4th last week at the Wells Fargo. In 2015, he became the fifth player to win both the NCAA and U.S. Amateur titles joining Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996) and Ryan Moore (2004). He's got major talent, and while he's a bit quirky, I heard an interview with him during the Arnie and he couldn't have been more respectful of Arnie and the what it would mean to win his tournament. Very classy young guy. A little bit different but very likeable personality. I'll take this young gun from Modesto, California by way of SMU to capture the 5th major.
Rafa Cabrera Bello