05 11, 2011
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida is where most of the PGA’s A-list will be swinging their sticks from Thursday to Sunday at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. With a hefty $9.5 million purse, a princely $1.71 million of that sum reserved for The Players' leaderboard topper, the game’s most massive tourney outside the quartet of majors has a money rep for attracting the game’s heaviest hitters.
But this year it’s who’s not in the field that has golf nuts chirping with Brits Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy (ranked No. 1 and No. 6 in the world rankings) opting to sit out the PGA’s richest purse.
“This year I'm playing here, taking next week (Players week) off, and then playing Spain, Wentworth, Memorial, week off, U.S. Open," offered McIlroy nonchalantly in Charlotte while getting set to play Quail Hollow.
“If I took part in The Players then the U.S. Open would be my sixth week out of seven, which is a lot of golf for me.”
So maybe it’s a snub with cause. In fairness the Stadium Course has stymied the young whippersnapper who is 0-for-2 in cuts made at TPC. Factor that along with the faltering U.S. dollar, the purse largesse in Sterling diminishes to a paltrier £5.7 million.
Englishman Lee Westwood has been a little more mum on why he’s skipping but to him and many Euro stars, the BMW PGA Championship (not to be confused with the PGA Championship or the BMW Championship, though crikey they could really ought to make the names more distinguishable) is the top title outside the Majors.
Tiger's Done Licking His Wounds
Despite suffering from a ligament sprain in his left knee and an ailing Achilles, Tiger Woods, who has been MIA since the Masters has decided it’s time to get back at it. It’s the 10-year anniversary of his lone Players victory — highlighted by an extraordinary, perfectly read, multi-breaking 60-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th that purposefully meandered its way into the cup. It’s still on Woods's all-time highlight reel and cemented his rep as a man who can read greens like Braille.
For Fantasy Golf players out there, my Players Yahoo Sports foursome is K.J. Choi, Steve Stricker, Webb Simpson and Aaron Baddeley with Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Mark Wilson on the bench.
Past Five Winners
2010 Tim Clark
2009 Henrik Stenson
2008 Sergio Garcia
2007 Phil Mickelson
2006 Stephen Ames
About TPC Sawgrass
Designer: Pete Dye
Players find a selection of short, medium and long holes within the categories of par-3s, par-4s and par-5s; both right and left doglegs; and a course routing laid out so no two consecutive holes ever play in the same direction. With its signature island 17th hole being one of the most recognized in golf, this legendary track has captured the imagination of golf fans the world over – and is still consistently named among the top few golf courses worldwide. More: Course Flyover
THE PLAYERS Stadium - Par 72
THE PLAYERS: 76.8 Rated / 155 Slope / 7,215 Yards
Blue: 73.9 Rated / 146 Slope / 6,661 Yards
Blended: 72.3 Rated / 143 Slope / 6,402 Yards
White: 70.9 Rated / 137 Slope / 6,103 Yards
Green: 65.3 Rated / 125 Slope / 5,019 Yards
Ladies' White: 78.6 Rated / 155 Slope / 6,103 Yards
Ladies' Green: 72.1 Rated / 135 Slope / 5,109 Yards
Golf Canada/ Globe & Mail
Pictured: The 18th Hole at Nagshead
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