Beginner’s guide to The Players: All you need to know about the PGA Tour event at TPC Sawgrass | Golf News


The stars of the PGA Tour head to TPC Sawgrass this week for The Players, but what is the tournament and why is it such a significant event in the golfing calendar? Here’s all you need to know ahead of the 2024 contest, live on Sky Sports…

What is The Players and why is it important?

The Players is the flagship event on the PGA Tour schedule and has traditionally produced one of the strongest fields in golf, with the calibre of players involved and the interest generated seeing it previously described as men’s golf’s “fifth major”.

The Players has been part of the PGA Tour calendar since its launch in 1974, where Jack Nicklaus became the inaugural winner, with the tournament held at its current venue – The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass – since 1982.

TPC Sawgrass is located at PGA Tour’s global home at Ponte Vedra Beach, with the tournament taking place in mid-March every year as part of a run of Florida-based events on the calendar.

What is so significant about the 17th?

The 137-yard par-three 17th hole is one of the most recognisable in the sport, with players hitting towards a hole surrounded by water on all sides and with huge crowds watching from either hospitality tents or spectator banks.

The “Stadium Hole” is TPC Sawgrass’ signature hole and is regularly referred to as having an “island green”, despite having a narrow peninsula at the back of the putting surface, but the 17th hole certainly poses all kinds of problems depending on the wind and the pin position.

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An historic three holes in one were recorded during the 2023 Players Championship with Hayden Buckley, Aaron Rai and Alex Smalley all aceing the iconic 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass

There have been 13 holes-in-one at the 17th in the tournament’s history, including three in 2023, with balls in the water and players racking up huge scores both big talking points every year. Expect plenty of drama and memorable moments there throughout the event.

What does the winner get?

The total prize purse of $25m is more than the funds on offer at any of the four majors, with the winner at TPC Sawgrass collecting a $4.5m first prize and 750 FedExCup points.

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Highlights from the final round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, where Scottie Scheffler lifted the trophy

A new trophy was unveiled in 2019 and incorporates aspects of each of the first 38 winners of The Players, with a golfer made of metal standing atop of a replica of the signature 17th island green.

Will Tiger Woods feature?

The 15-time major champion qualifies for the event as a major winner in the past five years, with the 2024 contest the last where Woods gets an exemption for his victory in The Masters in 2019, although he has elected against playing.

Woods won the event and 2001 but has only featured in The Players three times since his most recent victory at TPC Sawgrass in 2013, while the 48-year-old has played a limited schedule in recent years since sustaining career-threatening injuries in a car crash in February 2021.

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Sky Sports commentator Ewen Murray and caddie Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay discuss Tiger Woods’ incredible putt on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass on his way to winning the tournament in 2001

Woods was expected to be involved at The Players for the first time since 2019 as part of his “tournament a month” plan for the season ahead, which would have been his first appearance since withdrawing mid-round through illness at last month’s Genesis Invitational, although fans will now have to wait longer for his PGA Tour return.

Who else gets to play in it?

The world’s top 50 are allowed to compete, providing they’re eligible to play on the PGA Tour, with Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and FedExCup champion Viktor Hovland among the headline names involved.

The top 125 in the FedExCup standings at the end of the FedExCup Fall are exempt, along with major champions from the past five years, plus winners in the last three years of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Genesis Invitational, The Memorial and any World Golf Championship events.

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Everything you need to know about the 2024 schedule for the PGA Tour, including the changes made to the FedExCup calendar

Winners of PGA Tour events over the past year and the top 10 in the FedExCup standings at the conclusion of the Cognizant Classic also get to feature, as do last year’s Kaulig Companies Championship winner and the player who topped the Korn Ferry Tour standings.

Does that include LIV players?

LIV Golf players are banned from featuring in PGA Tour events, with those guidelines also applying to The Players.

2022 champion Cameron Smith is ineligible since joining LIV Golf at the end of that PGA Tour season, with Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer the other former winners ineligible since joining the Saudi-backed circuit.

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Highlights of Cameron Smith’s winning round as he claimed a thrilling one-shot victory at the 2022 Players Championship

Jon Rahm would likely have been among the tournament favourites had he not joined LIV Golf, while five-time major champion Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau and last year’s runner-up Tyrrell Hatton are also missing from the field.

Who has impressed at The Players before?

Scheffler returns as defending champion after last year’s five-shot victory over Hatton, where Hovland finished tied-third and last month’s Genesis Invitational winner Hideki Matsuyama took fifth spot.

This year’s event marks the fifth anniversary of McIlroy’s Players Championship win and Justin Thomas is among the recent roll of honour, while Woods is the last two-time winner of The Players.

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Relive the best of the action from a thrilling round at the 2019 Players Championship, where Rory McIlroy claimed a one-shot win

There has never been an English winner of The Players, with Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose among those looking to change that this week.

When is it live on Sky?

Sky Sports Golf will once again be the home of The Players in 2024, with nearly 60 hours of live coverage from Tuesday-Sunday of tournament week and a host of extra content available for you to enjoy.

The Players Championship Live

Thursday 14th March 11:30am

A special ‘Live from The Players’ show will offer live build-up on both Tuesday and Wednesday before live coverage begins from 11.30am over the first two days and 2pm over the weekend, following action from before the opening tee shot until after the close of play.

Bonus coverage will be available via the red button for all four tournament rounds, with featured groups and bonus marquee groups there to enjoy every day alongside a special featured holes feed.

Watch The Players live from March 14-17 live on Sky Sports. Stream the majors, PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and more on NOW.

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