COMMENTARY | THE PLAYERS Championship is often referred to as the PGA TOUR's fifth major, and for good reason.
The storied event, played at the infamous TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., will begin this week. The course with the famous island green on the 17th hole will have plenty of other storylines surrounding its signature event. Here are five things to watch for going into the tournament:
Which Tiger Woods will show up? Whether golf fans are sick of hearing about him or not, the former world No. 1 moves the needle when it comes to golf and the PGA TOUR. With two worldwide wins in 2012 coupled with performances that reminded the sports world just how far he had fallen, no one really knows which Tiger will show up. Aside from a lone win at The Players in 2001, he has struggled there over the course of his career. In short, anything can happen.
Rickie Fowler has finally won on the PGA TOUR, but can he make a real statement with another win? It's incredible that a 23 year-old is widely considered to have gotten over the hump with a win at Quail Hollow on May 6. But that's the type of talent and expectation the young southern California native carries with him. It's hard to win a golf tournament, even more difficult to win in back to back weeks. If Fowler wins this week, he'll begin to make create a buzz in golf like he did when he first turned professional.
Phil Mickelson is in the World Golf Hall of Fame, so now what? Seeing how Mickelson will respond on the course to being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame will make for another great developing story at THE PLAYERS. At 41 years old, he is not done playing by a long shot, and has a lot more left in the tank. Golf is different in that way - its legends often play well into their senior years. At this point, Phil is just a kid compared to them. But can he play like one again?
Bubba Watson will not be playing, instead choosing to spend time with his family. He should be applauded for this decision, but the PGA TOUR and its fans will miss him. He brings true excitement to the game with his amazing ability to shape the ball coupled with Hulk-like distance. A Players Championship without Bubba will be less interesting, period.
Will the "Golf Boys Slam" be completed at TPC Sawgrass? With Fowler's win at the Wells Fargo Championship, there is now just one member of the famous pop group, "Golf Boys", who has not won in 2012 -- Ben Crane. Watson, Fowler, and Hunter Mahan have each notched at least one win on TOUR in 2012. All that's left is a win from Crane to complete the "slam." If you haven't seen their hit single, you can find it here. Crane has come awfully close to winning in 2012. He's got three top tens including a 2nd place finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the PGA TOUR. He is a PGA professional and has been published in southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets
- Sports & Recreation
- PGA TOUR
- TPC Sawgrass
- Tiger Woods
- Rickie Fowler