Here at Hole19 HQ, we're buzzing for the 2022 major season to get underway. And we know THE PLAYERS Championship isn't a major... but it's almost that time of year.
Each time the world's best head to Ponte Vedra Beach, it reminds us that The Masters is fast approaching.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. Golf's unofficial fifth major championship is a fantastic tournament in its own right. We can't wait for proceedings at TPC Sawgrass to get underway this week.
To help whet the appetite a little, check out our preview and picks below.
TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course)
Yardage: 7,256 yds
TPC Sawgrass needs no introduction, and, as always, it will provide a stern test this week.
Constructed in 1980, The Stadium Course is one of the best and most recognisable layouts on the PGA Tour. The Pete Dye design tests every golfer's game to the max without giving an obvious advantage to any given style.
The closing holes can provide a dramatic conclusion each and every year - thanks in no small part to the iconic 17th.
Signature Hole - No. 17
The 17th at TPC Sawgrass is arguably the most famous hole in world golf. Its tournament-wrecking potential is legendary, and we expect this year will be no different.
Even the best golfers in the world can't help but let their minds wander to the tee shot at the island green.
Summing it up better than we ever could, back in 2009, Mark Calcavecchia said:
"It is like having a 3 o'clock appointment for a root canal. You're thinking about it all morning, and you feel bad all day. You kind of know sooner or later you've got to get to it."
Last Year's Champion - Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas vies to become the first back-to-back winner in the tournament's long history.
While the weight of history is against a repeat of last year's victory, the world-number-eight arrives in good form. In five of his previous six starts, Thomas has finished no worse than T-8.
Last year, the 2017 PGA Champion fought to hold off the challenges of Lee Westwood and Bryson DeChambeau. The latter has ruled himself out this week due to an ongoing wrist injury.
Our Players Championship Picks
Here's a trio of selections we're expecting big things from at TPC Sawgrass this week:
There's little argument when it comes to the most in-form golfer in the men's game. Viktor Hovland has finished better than T4 in five of his past eight tournaments - winning three in the process.
Though he missed the cut at last year's event, the young Norweigan seems primed for another strong week. Many feel that he could be ready to win a first major championship this year, and he will face a major-like set-up this week.
The Northern Irishman missed the cut in 2021 but is optimistic about his chances this year. In pre-tournament interviews, he has stated that his golf swing is in a better place and he's feeling much more confident.
Sounds like a nice combination. If his putter gets hot... watch out!
From further down the pre-tournament betting, we like the look of South Korean Sungjae Im as a possible champion this week.
He finished 2021 with a win at the Shriners and has shown glimpses of his best golf since the turn of the year. Also, interestingly, he seems to enjoy playing in Florida with strong performances at other courses in the state.
Im would become the third South Korean to win THE PLAYERS Championship. Countrymen KJ Choi and Si-Woo Kim already have their name etched on the event's highly-coveted trophy.
The Players: R1 Tee times
Times are GMT
TEE #1: Adam Schenk, Kramer Hickok, Lee Hodges – TEE #10: Brian Harman, Russell Knox, Beau Hossler
TEE #1: Charley Hoffman, Harold Varner III, Will Zalatoris – TEE #10: Kyle Stanley, Tommy Fleetwood, Wyndham Clark
TEE #1: Kevin Streelman, Maverick McNealy, Roger Sloan – TEE #10: Aaron Wise, Doc Redman, Mito Pereira
TEE #1: Sungjae Im, Martin Laird, Richy Werenski – TEE #10: Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson
TEE #1: Cameron Champ, Matt Jones, Francesco Molinari – TEE #10: Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen
TEE #1: Erik van Rooyen, Garrick Higgo, Ryan Palmer – TEE #10: Joaquin Niemann, Hideki Matsuyama, Cameron Smith
TEE #1: K.H. Lee, Adam Long, Kevin Tway – TEE #10: Viktor Hovland, Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm
TEE #1: Sebastian Munoz, Dylan Frittelli, Jimmy Walker – TEE #10: Sam Burns, Abraham Ancer, Paul Casey
TEE #1: Joel Dahmen, Brian Gay, Corey Conners – TEE #10: Tom Hoge, Tyrrell Hatton, Brandt Snedeker
TEE #1: Lanto Griffin, Gary Woodland, Keith Mitchell – TEE #10: Lucas Glover, Shane Lowry, Matthew Wolff
TEE #1: Ian Poulter, Pat Perez, Jhonattan Vegas – TEE #10: Peter Malnati, Alex Noren, Anirban Lahiri
TEE #1: Henrik Norlander, Hank Lebioda, Taylor Pendrith – TEE #10: Scott Piercy, Nick Watney, Hayden Buckley
TEE #1: Brian Stuard, Harry Higgs, Brandon Hagy – TEE #10: Chris Kirk, Lee Westwood, Matt Fitzpatrick
TEE #1: Keegan Bradley, Andrew Putnam, Cameron Young – TEE #10: Cameron Tringale, Sam Ryder, Matt Wallace
TEE #1: Russell Henley, Mackenzie Hughes, Thomas Pieters – TEE #10: James Hahn, Chesson Hadley, J.J. Spaun
TEE #1: Ryan Brehm, Kevin Kisner, Jason Day – TEE #10: Hudson Swafford, Talor Gooch, Jason Kokrak
TEE #1: Jordan Spieth, Daniel Berger, Dustin Johnson – TEE #10: Cam Davis, Branden Grace, Carlos Ortiz
TEE #1: Scottie Scheffler, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele – TEE #10: Sepp Straka, Robert Streb, Bubba Watson
TEE #1: Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas – TEE #10: Lucas Herbert, Brendon Todd, Chez Reavie
TEE #1: Max Homa, Billy Horschel, Justin Rose – TEE #10: Stewart Cink, C.T. Pan, Patton Kizzire
TEE #1: Marc Leishman, J.T. Poston, Zach Johnson – TEE #10: Luke List, Seamus Power, Taylor Moore
TEE #1: Si Woo Kim, Matt Kuchar, Henrik Stenson – TEE #10: Brice Garnett, Adam Hadwin, Danny Lee
TEE #1: Charl Schwartzel, Denny McCarthy, Tyler McCumber – TEE #10: Troy Merritt, Scott Stallings, Doug Ghim
TEE #1: Brendan Steele, Emiliano Grillo, Matthew NeSmith – TEE #10: Joseph Bramlett, Stephan Jaeger, Sahith Theegala