May 12, 2017
Is The Players Championship a Major?
No it is not, but it's pretty close. If we give major designations to every great tournament, then the meaning of a major will diminish and will lose its importance. The Players Championship is on the next level of accomplishments that a player would list on his career resume. Winning the Players Championship is a coveted achievement. The winner this year will receive $1,890,000, which is the largest single payout in tournament golf. The champion also receives a five year exemption on the PGA Tour, a three year invitation to the Masters and British Open, and an exemption to the PGA Championship. He also receives the next most points in world ranking behind the established major championships. So the golfing establishment places a high importance on this championship.
I really enjoy this tournament, because it has the feel of something special. With each passing year the tournament gains stature and history. The list of champions are elite with very few surprise winners. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Jason Day, Greg Norman, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Davis Love, David Duval, Fred Couples, Lee Trevino and other greats have won this event. It is a prominent title posted on their resumes.
What is compelling is the beauty of the golf course, the enthusiastic crowds and the difficultly of the finishing holes. 16, 17 and 18 are gut check holes that require your full attention and commitment. However, the rest of the golf course is equally difficult and demanding. Pete Dye designed the course to be viewer friendly with many vantage points to witness the action. Danger lurks on almost every hole. Play poorly and there is no place to hide. It is very easy to shoot yourself out of the tournament with one disastrous hole. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach in northern Florida has become an Augusta National type of golf course. It has acquired a personality of its own. Spectators and TV viewers are drawn to the drama that happens on the 17th hole. Balls go in the water at an astonishing rate and hopes are dashed with one fickle swing. But there are plenty of other demanding shots that the winner must perform. Just like at the Masters, there are traps and mine fields to be navigated. To win the Masters you need to be brave and strong minded. The Players Championship requires the same fortitude. But just like the Masters the course will yield good scores for those that can hit the precise and daring shots. I think this is why the event has gained in popularity and importance.
A major it isn't, but for drama and intrigue it is a can't miss event. I give the victor full credit and place him as one of the favorites to win one of this year's remaining three majors. A win here and you know you are playing your best, have conquered your nerves, and won on a grand stage. Winning the Players is like winning a major, because of the difficulty of the course, the strong field, and the tension. Unfortunately, the victory will still be view a bit below the other four championships, but the accomplishment might be equally as great.