The season’s strongest field outside of The Masters takes the course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, starting Thursday for The Players Championship.
It’s the first look at a renovated course which includes a new 12th hole, a new hazard between o. 6 and No. 7, and other places where either the rough or the green has been somewhat altered.
No. 12 now is a legitimate eagle target, if you can avoid the water to the left, meaning the back nine can become a bold player’s best friend, with eagles possible at 11, 12, and 16.
Here’s a look at the top trios headed out to the TPC Sawgrass Thursday morning.
8:16 a.m., No. 10, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day – The past two winners are here, and Fowler enhanced his popularity into another stratosphere when he aced the No. 17 hole here on Wednesday during the practice round. He has finished no worse off then 16th in six straight starts. Day won here last year with a course-record 63 in the first round. Stenson won the event way back in 2009.
8:27 a.m., No. 10, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson. It’s been 10 years since Mickelson won here, while Spieth finished fourth in his debut in 2014. Matsuyama was in the chase for the title here a year ago but wound up finishing seventh.
1:52 p.m., No. 1, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy. It’s McIlroy’s first start as a married man, finally tying the knot with Caroline Woz … scratch that, with Erica Stoll. Johnson just missed winning at Wells Fargo last week, and Thomas is the only other player besides Johnson with three victories on tour this year.