Ladies get 5 of these per year, while men only get 4. What am I talking about? Major golf championships of course. In 2013, the Evian Masters was upgraded to a major, which has of course gone down well with LPGA and LET players. Why am I talking about this though? The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass is always touted as the unofficial 5th major in golf and it’s this week’s tournament.
This is by far one of my favourite tournaments to watch as well as a course which is firmly on my ‘bucket list’ (if anyone from TPC Sawgrass is reading this I will be in Florida in September, just saying). The course has been created with pure drama in mind. The course was designed with the ‘stadium’ concept firmly at the forefront and uses mounds of grass to provide this feeling. The tournament offers the highest prize-fund ($10M) of any in golf and of course features the most skillful players in the world. I’m yet to mention the most important factor in this tournament though.
The Stadium Course (on which the tournament is played) features one of the most iconic golf holes in the sport. The 137-yard, 17th at Sawgrass is the famous ‘island green’. There aren’t many holes in golf that are more fun to watch. The split-screen of the ball in the air coupled with the anguished face of the player who has just sent the ball into the air and is hoping for a dry landing is priceless viewing. My greatest memory of this hole was the 60-foot downhill triple-breaker that Tiger Woods holed from the fringe in the 2001 TPC. He won by a single-stroke that year and you have to say that that was it!
OK, enough of the history. Yet again my tips last week were poor. Rory came through with a top-10 but didn’t really contend so I really must do better! First of all crouching Tiger is still a hidden dragon, so the 2013 champion will not be in the field. I think Phil Mickelson might be a shout for this week. He has made no secret of the fact that his sole objective for the 2014 season is winning the US Open and with just 36 days to go his game should be starting to heat up. He is plagued by inconsistency but after firing a 63 at Quail Hollow last week he clearly has some serious game waiting to get out. He also won the event in 2007, so that always helps matters a tad.
Much like Augusta National, the TPC at Sawgrass tends not to lend itself to first-timers. However, a couple of newbs broke that rule at the US Masters and I suspect may do again here. The first being the phenom that is Jordan Spieth. Nothing really needs to be said other than the fact that he is a quite outstanding golfer that seems to contend at any outing. Also, time for patriotism so get the bagpipe music on, Stephen Gallacher may as well book his room at Gleneagles for September because he’s having a glittering season. I’m not particularly picking Stevie G for the win but I wouldn’t be surprised at a top-10 from the Linlithgow man. Happy viewing golf fans!