There's Plenty of Cash Up For Grabs This Week At THE PLAYERS Championship At TPC Sawgrass

Chris Condon. Getty Images.

Ah yes! THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass. The one they call the 5th major. And ya, it's all caps. THE PLAYERS Championship. Don't ask me why, it just is.

We're at one of golf's most iconic venues. Behind the eden that is Augusta National, this is the most well known annual stop on the PGA Tour. It's their premier event, as the Tour's main headquarters reside right here in Ponta Vedra Beach. It's also the single event (East Lake notwithstanding) where the Tour gives out the most coin - a record purse of $25 MILLION is up for grabs, including $4.5M to the winner.

For comparison's sake, the Masters only gave out $18 million last year. So yeah, this is a big one where you're sure to see a lot of hubbub about the guy late on Sunday whose lipout on the 72nd hole costs him $450k.

Last year Scottie Scheffler eviscerated the field with a steady Sunday 69 after building a 2-stroke lead over Min Woo Lee thru 54 holes. Lee actually caught Scottie with birdie on the 3rd hole to grab a share of the lead, but made a mess with a triple on the 4th, which is a hole that seems to play a big part in this tourney every year. Scottie took the lead and never looked back, firing 5 straight birdies on holes 8 thru 12 and coasting to a win. Tyrell Hatton (not in attendance this week) stole solo 2nd with a record-tying back nine 29 to grab $2.725M. Not a bad nine.

More on last year's tourney if ya care to read the recap from Danny Raps:

Last year's leaderboard and recent winners…

2023 Leaderboard

Recent Winners

The Course

TPC Sawgrass is one of Pete Dye's greatest masterpieces and easily his most well known. Those who know the game well know a Pete Dye design immediately when they see one and this course exemplifies everything they tend to feature - long fairway bunkers, bulkhead-lined greens protected by water, and thoughtful holes of a variety of lengths. His objective was often to make his golf courses visually imposing and this course has that by the truckloads.

It's also an immaculate golf course. I had the pleasure of going to last year's tournament and the property is glorious. Perfectly manicured and every little detail tended to a T. Just a mow pattern clinic out there. I haven't had the delight of going to a Masters (plz send me Dave or anyone else…) but I have to imagine the condition of this golf course is the next best thing. And the range… chef's kiss. Look at this place.

Sawgrass measures 7,275 yards and is your traditional par 72 with par 36 on each side. It's not terribly long, but there are a good handful of holes where driver may not be the play off the tee. The 4th is probably the best example of that. All four par 5's are reachable in two, with the 583 yard par 5 9th being the most challenging with trees protecting the green short left and some bodacious grass bunkers to the right. The finishing 18th is a menace, one of the most intimidating final tee shots in all of golf that always makes for great drama. They always play it up on TV how scary it is, but you really cannot grasp how small the margin of error is until you see it in person.

What I find most interesting is that this course historically does not favor any one type of golfer. It's extraordinarily balanced. Bombers have won here, ball-strikers have won here, guys with incredible short games and hot putters have won here… there's hardly one area of expertise to target. Since THE PLAYERS moved to this course in 1982, no golfer has ever defended his title and no one has ever won here 3 times. Only Tiger, DLIII, Steve Elkington, Hal Sutton, and Freddie Couples have won here twice. Nobody should be walking on to the property this week thinking that they own the place. If you play good golf, you'll have a chance and if you don't, you won't. Crazy how simple that is, right?

Best Hole - 17th Hole, Par 3 137 yards

Chris Condon. Getty Images.

I mean, could it really be anything but the island green? It's one of golf's most iconic holes. I think its status as "one of a kind" is a little bit overblown (PGA West #17 says hi), but in terms of the stage that it's on and what's at stake, there might be nothing better in golf. The stadium atmosphere surrounding the lake delivers on TV and after going in 2021 I'm so jealous of anybody who will be there this weekend.

So many great moments here over the years:

"Better than most" 

Freddie's birdie in '96. 

Rickie's epic showing in '15

Gold Man bringing down the house

And so many more. 

The Weather

TV Coverage

Wall to wall golf baby!!! 

Tour is really going on all in on THE PLAYERS. It's on site at their HQ so it makes sense. NBC takes us home this week.

We're lucky enough to have some MONSTER featured groups this week. Oooo mama.

The Trophy 

Richard Heathcote. Getty Images.

For a long time the prize here was Waterford crystal, which I guess was nice and shiny and all, but at the end of the day it's just a hunk of crystal.

Starting in 2019 with Rory's win, they unveiled a new trophy that takes after the logo for THE PLAYERS, which is an awesome and easily recognizable logo.

What I learned last year is that the face on the trophy is actually a composite grafting of the previous 38 champions? Pretty whack.

Where this trophy really brings it is the fact that the player is standing on an outline of the 17th island green. 

BAM. That's an instant 2 point boost to what was already a very solid trophy. I'm giving this trophy a 9.2/10. You won't want to swap it out for a hockey guy on top. 

The Board Presented by Draftkings #DKPartner

Beardo Scottie Scheffler is a clear cut favorite at Draftkings at +550. He's the defending champ and suddenly looks like a weapon with a mallet putter after blowing the field away on the weekend at Bay Hill.

But that heavy a favorite?? I'm not convinced. I'm going to roll with Viktor Hovland +2500. He hasn't been playing his best golf of late, but this is a 2nd shot golf course that favors ball-striking. Vik has always been one of the best on that front. He's placed 9th and 3rd here the last two years and this seems like a tournament where very few winners win for a 2nd time.

Other Plays

Patrick Cantlay +2800/Top 10 +280

Shane Lowry +4500/Top GB&I +550

Tom Kim +8000

Rickie Fowler Top 10 +1000

Ace on #17 - Yes +250

Rob MacIntyre Top GB&I +3000

That's what I got… enjoy THE PLAYERS!