If you want to get a golf fan riled up, tell them that the Players Championship is the PGA Tour's fifth major. Some don't mind the Players being referred to as such, but the other--and far louder--side of the debate will tell you in a variety of different ways that you're the worst person on Earth for even suggesting such a thing. There are four majors a year, and that's that.
Nevertheless, no matter how you feel about that particular conversation, one thing is clear. The Players is a big tournament. The purse--$10.5 million, with nearly $2 million going to the winner--is no longer the most lucrative in all of golf with news of the U.S. Open upping its prize pool to $12 million, but it's still more than the other majors. Then there's the strength of the field. The Top 24 players in the world will all be competing at the famous TPC Sawgrass, while 48 of the Top 50--Brandt Snedeker and Thomas Pieters being the only exceptions--will be in action.
It may not be the fifth major, and that's fine, but it's the perfect tournament to get casual fans excited during the two-month stretch in between the Masters and the US Open. And what's more, after Dustin Johnson was forced to miss the Masters with a back injury, it's the first time this year we get to see the World No. 1 take on a tourney of this stature (the WGC-Mexico was close, though the field wasn't quite this strong). In fact, it's the first tournament this season that will feature all of the world's Top 5: Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth.
There are ultimately dozens of players who have what it takes to win next weekend, and you can click through the gallery for my Top 10 contenders. (Getty)