The PGA Tour made some significant changes to its 2018-19 wraparound schedule. The Tour wanted to have one major/anchor tournament per month from March-August, ending the season a bit earlier to get out of the way of football. One of the changes was moving the PGA Championship from August to May and then kicking the PLAYERS Championship, often called “the fifth major,” from May to March.
It’s not totally new for the PLAYERS to be staged in March as the PGA Tour’s flagship event was through 2006. It has been held at its current home, TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, since 1982. It has one of the most famous holes in the world, the island par-3 17th. The Stadium course is a par 72 at nearly 7,200 yards. This tournament has the richest purse in golf, even more than the four majors. The winner also gets a sweet five-year PGA Tour exemption – regular event winners get two years.
Dustin Johnson is a +1200 co-favorite on the PLAYERS Championship odds even though DJ has yet to win this tournament and has just two Top 25s at the PLAYERS in his career. Johnson was T17 last year and comes off a win at the WGC-Mexico Championship a few weeks ago.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is also +1200 to win his first PLAYERS Championship at online betting sites. He has three Top 10s there since 2013 but missed the cut in 2018 following rounds of 71-74. Justin Thomas is +1600 and also looking for his first PLAYERS title. He was T11 last year.
Will Tiger Woods (+2200) play? He was forced to withdraw from last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational (a tournament he has won eight times) in Orlando due to a neck strain. In his statement announcing the W/D, Woods said he expected to be ready for the PLAYERS and it’s looking like he will play. Tiger is a two-time champion of the PLAYERS, last in 2013. He was T11 last year. Woods does have until his Thursday tee time to withdraw if need be.
Only six players have won this tournament at least twice (Jack Nicklaus the lone three-time winner), but no one has managed to repeat. Webb Simpson was the 2018 champion at 18-under 270, beating out three other golfers by four shots. Simpson is +5000 this week.
Phil Mickelson is a +6600 longer shot on the golf odds to win the PLAYERS, which he did in 2007. However, Lefty admits the course really doesn’t suit his style of play. That was apparent with a missed cut last year. He talked about skipping this year as recently as last week but is in Ponte Vedra Beach and expected to tee it up.