THE PLAYERS Championship, first played in 1974, is run by the PGA TOUR. Commissioner Joseph Dey had decided the prior year that the TOUR should have its own championship with a stature similar to those of the major championships, and he left it up to Commissioner Beman, who took over in 1974 to make it happen. The championship is often referred to as the Fifth Major as its field is so strong and its entry so restrictive that it almost feels like a major championship. Additionally it has no pro-am on Wednesday which is the case with all of the major championships. The Players offers the highest purse of any tournament on tour ($10 million). Oddly enough, it is not regarded as an Official Event on the European PGA TOUR.
The field consists of 144 players consisting of the following criteria:
- Winners of PGA Tour events since last P
- Top 125 from previous season’s FedEx Cup
- Top 125 from current season – Medical Extension
- Majors champions from the past five years, including THE PLAYERS Championship
- Winners of the TOUR Championship and World Golf Championships in the last three seasons
- Winners of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in 2011 and 2012, if he was a TOUR member at the time of his victory. Winner of 2013 WGC-HSBC Champions.
- Top 50 from the Official World Golf Ranking thru the Zurich Classic
- Senior Players champion from prior year
- Web.com Tour money leader from prior regular season (effective in 2014). Previously, the season money leader earned a Players place.
- Money leader during the Web.com Tour Finals, if not the regular-season money leader (effective in 2014)
- Current year FedEx Cup points leaders (top 10 plus alternates from 11th place)
The winner of the Players Championship gets multi-year exemptions similar to the other major championships. They receive three-year exemptions into the Masters, US Open and PGA Championship. They also receive a five-year exemption on the PGA TOUR. A win here is worth 600 FedExCup points, if the winner is a PGA TOUR member.
The home of the Players Championship today is the Pete Dye designed THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. This is also the home of the PGA Tour. The tournament moved around the first couple years but Commissioner Beman knew that it needed a permanent home and he moved it to Sawgrass CC in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL in 1977, and later to his TPC Sawgrass creation in 1982.The tournament was played at Atlanta Country Club (1974), Colonial Country Club (1975), and Inverrary Country Club (1976) its first three years.
The stark design is memorable in many, many ways. With its water features, railroad ties, severe pin placements and island greens it is quite exciting to watch. No doubt the final three holes at the TPC are almost as well known as the final holes at Augusta National. No lead is big enough it seems when a player steps onto the 17th tee to hit a little 139 yard shot to an island green. Few players can avoid being nervous with this little shot. The course is very, very difficult and demanding. To add insult to injury it is in Florida where the wind can really blow. Here are some stories.
- Bob Murphy shoots 92 in the final round of the 1979 Players.
- John Cook is leading in 1983 but double bogey’s #18 to lose to John Mahaffey.
- Larry Mize bogeys four of the last five holes to lose by one shot in 1986.
- Phil Blackmar double bogey’s # 18 to lose the tournament after leading coming into the hole.
- Craig Perks finishes eagle-birdie-par to win in 2002 for his only career PGA Tour win.
- Bob Tway puts four balls into the water on # 17 in 2005 and makes a 12.
- Greg Norman wins The Players in 1994 shooting 264 (24 under). The course is toughened up for the next year. Lee Janzen wins in 1995 shooting 283 (5 under).
For you folks in the real estate industry how about this little fact …
After the Championship in 2006 the existing clubhouse was demolished and a new clubhouse was built. In 2007 The Players Championship moved to a May slot vs. its March slot in 2006 therefore the contractor had two extra months to complete the demolition of the old and construction of the new. Yes, you heard that right, they had 14 months to demolish the old structure and rebuild a new clubhouse. At the Championship in May 2007 a brand new 77,000 square feet Mediterranean Revival style clubhouse was open for business and ready to host the 2007 Players Championship. This was certainly a feat to be admired.
Salesmanship Club of Dallas