THE PLAYERS Fantasy Golfanac

Course Details

TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
7,189 yards – Par 72 – Tifeagle Bermudagrass Greens overseeded with Poa Trivialis and Velvet Bent
Fairways and Rough: Bermudagrass overseeded with ryegrass and fine fescue

Tournament Stimpmeter: 12.5 ft. … Quicker than average green speeds
Green Sizes: 5,500 sq. feet .. Much Smaller than Average Green Sizes
Strength of Field Rating: 750+ … Strong Field Strength
Fairways Hit (Field Average): ~63% … Average Fairways Hits
Greens in Regulation (Field Average): ~64% … Average GIR Percentage
Driving Distance (Field Average): 278 yards … Less-than-Driver Course

Tournament Angles

Overseeded Bermuda Greens
Strong Field Events
Fast Greens
Florida Course
Par 72 Courses
Windy Rounds
Pete Dye Courses
Performance in the Spring
TPC Courses
Less-than-Driver Courses

Previous Winners

2018: Webb Simpson -18 over Charl Schwartzel, Xander Schauffele, and Jimmy Walker -14
2017: Si Woo Kim -10 over Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen -7
2016: Jason Day -15 over Kevin Chappell -11
2015: Rickie Fowler -12 over Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia in a playoff
2014: Martin Kaymer -13 over Jim Furyk -12
2013: Tiger Woods -13 over Kevin Streelman, Jeff Maggert, David Lingmerth -11
2012: Matt Kuchar -13 over Martin Laird, Ben Curtist, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler -11
2011: K.J. Choi -13 over David Toms in a playoff
2010: Tim Clark -16 over Robert Allenby -15

54-Hole Leaders

2018: Webb Simpson -19
2017: J.B. Holmes, Kyle Stanley -9
2016: Jason Day -14
2015: Chris Kirk -10
2014: Martin Kaymer, Jordan Spieth -12
2013: Tiger Woods, David Lingmerth, Sergio Garcia -1
2012: Kevin Na -12
2011: Graeme McDowell -12
2010: Lee Westwood -14

36-Hole Leaders

2018: Webb Simpson -15
2017: Louis Oosthuizen, Kyle Stanley -9
2016: Jason Day -15
2015: Jerry Kelly, Kevin Na -8
2014: Martin Kaymer -12
2013: Sergio Garcia -11
2012: Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Kevin Na -8
2011: David Toms -10
2010: Lee Westwood -12

First-Round Leaders

2018: Patrick Cantlay, Chesson Hadley, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Alex Noren, Webb Simpson -6
2017: Mackenzie Hughes, William McGirt -5
2016: Jason Day -9
2015: David Hearn, Charley Hoffman, Hideki Matsuyama, Kevin Na -5
2014: Martin Kaymer -9
2013: Roberto Castro -9
2012: Martin Laird, Ian Poulter -7
2011: Nick Watney -8
2010: Robert Allenby, J.B. Holmes -6

Important Interview Quotes

Q. Just on the golf course, you said where everybody is generally playing from the same areas, do you see that as a design positive or a design flaw?
TIGER WOODS:
No, no, it’s what Pete likes to do. Pete likes to, one, try and intimidate you visually, and then tries to really punish you for making a mistake. And this golf course, there’s only a few holes in which you can be aggressive off the tee length-wise and have an advantage, and there are a couple of the par-5s, maybe 14, as well. But generally we’re all kind of playing from the same spot, and that just opens up the field, and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve seen guys who hit the ball long like Davis Love has over the years, or you have a shorter hitter like Fred Funk winning. So many guys have a chance to win here, and that’s what makes this championship so difficult to win is that it’s open to a lot of players. -2018

Q. Or will it matter to you the time of year?
JORDAN SPIETH:
Personally, I like this grass type better. I grew up on this, Bermuda, not the overseed, having to judge firmer, faster greens, and then the biggest change will be within the rough. Obviously around the greens, overseed becomes an easier grass to chip off of than this grainy Bermuda. But out of the rough, judging fliers and shots around the green, explosion shots, having that kind of feel, that goes away a little bit when overseed comes in. It becomes a little bit easier. I think the scores will potentially go lower with a change in grass type. Now, that’s obviously dependent on condition outside, but given the same conditions, I think the scores will be a little bit lower with the tournament being moved up. -2018

Q. Do you think more guys are going to go for that green now that it’s been modified a little bit [Par-4 12th hole]?
KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT:
I think so. I think a lot of players will go for it. Especially you got a lane, you can just carry like 260 or 270 yard over the bunker on the left and it’s going to roll toward the front of the green. -2018

Q. Your game’s in good shape coming in here. What are your expectations after seeing the way the course is playing?
BUBBA WATSON:
The golf course is the best shape we have ever seen it. We all say that. Never seen it this good. My best finish is 37th, so every time I come here I’m just trying to beat 37. I’m no good around this place. It’s very difficult for me because of the sights off the tee, some of the trees. It makes me fear hitting the shots that I want to hit so it causes me a lot of problems. -2018

Q. On a normal day, how many times do you hit driver on this golf course? Also, do you think it is a better test of golf the more often you hit driver on a golf course? Not you personally but just in general.
PHIL MICKELSON:
I think when the tournament was in March, there were more drivers than in May because the fairways were softer, and it seems that about 300 to 350, there’s a lot of holes where you don’t want to hit it much past that. A lot of times now it might be a 3-wood. I probably hit driver half the time. I probably could hit driver every hole if you wanted to. It doesn’t take driver out of the hands where you don’t have options. You have options. I will probably hit it about five to seven times I would guess and favor a 3-wood and a driving iron that — kind of a long 3-iron that I have — most of the time. -2018

Q. I know you said it doesn’t matter to you if it’s played in May or March; do you have a preference, though, on which way you like this golf course better?
PHIL MICKELSON:
I really don’t. I would say if I did have to pick, I would probably pick March where it’s overseeded and a little softer, for the reason that the greens are not really designed for run-up shots, at least 17 isn’t. There’s a lot of holes like that where we’ve got to fly it on and stop it. I think the way it played in March, I kind of preferred over the firm, fast. I don’t think when it was designed, it was designed to be firm, fast the way it has played the last few years. -2018

Q. Next year when we go back to March here, and you haven’t had that experience of playing in March, but it’s overseeded rye, different wind, north-northeast wind a lot. Will that require any great adjustment on your part?
RICKIE FOWLER:
Yeah, like I said, I haven’t seen the golf course that time of year. I’ve only kind of heard about it. I think this week we’re going to get some winds that will be somewhat similar. I think we’re pretty east-biased this week on wind. I think there’s a little bit of north in it today, but definitely have never played it when it’s straight out of the north, and obviously temperatures can be a bit different, wind, rain, there’s a lot of things that can come into play in March. -2018

Q. What about the overseed, especially on the greens? Any great difference for you?
RICKIE FOWLER:
I don’t think so, I mean, as far as them being — if they’re in good condition, I don’t think it matters a whole lot. I think the overseed around the golf course I think makes chipping and I think play around the greens a bit easier. But I think a lot of it does — it depends on what the weather is, if they’re able to keep it dry or if we have cold and rain. It’s kind of up in the air when it comes to March in this area. -2018

Q. Did winning on the West Coast version of the Stadium Course, did you gain anything that can help this week, or are they just two completely different challenges?
JON RAHM:
Oh, I mean, it’s night and day. First of all, it’s Bermudagrass here. It’s overseed over there. So that’s the first difference. The ball reacts completely different on the greens.

But the design, it is somewhat similar. The course I grew up on in — the course I practiced at in the States in college for four years was a Pete Dye design, as well. There’s a lot of similarities, and I was able to win three times there. I guess I know how to play Pete Dye courses, but this one is a little bit different to the rest. Again, both of those I’ve won on previously, my ball-striking has been amazing. I mean, it’s been about one of the, the best it’s been in a long time in both those wins. I guess it just tells me the same thing: I need to really play good tee to green. And in both of those tournaments, a lot of times I sacrificed distance for fairway. -2018

JON RAHM: Well, I think it’s needless to say that this is a week that we all look forward to. Obviously it really just feels like it’s a fifth major, to be honest. The golf course is outstanding. It’s always in fantastic shape. There’s few golf courses in the world that you can say is comparable to Augusta National when it comes to maintenance, which is a very, very big compliment. It’s amazing how good of a shape it always is. Obviously greatly organized. There’s never, ever a problem I don’t think or ever a complaint from players in this tournament. The only one may be that the golf course is a little too hard sometimes, but that’s something we have to deal with. It’s just, tee to green, probably one of the most demanding golf courses we play, and also, not long. It’s just something that doesn’t happen out there on TOUR, much like Colonial. We have irons and woods off the tee, and it’s just as challenging as the longest and hardest golf courses in the world. It’s a true test in every way. -2018

Q. What did you learn from last year’s Players about how to handle this course and this tournament?
JON RAHM:
Well, I played great the first two days. I just have no idea what happened on Saturday, which I ended up shooting 80 something, kind of forgot what the 80 number was. But it’s a placement course. You don’t need to hit it long. Long length is completely eliminated on this course. So you just need to place it off the tee and then have a really good iron week. It’s very demanding from the fairway to the green, and to be able to have the best chance to hit those greens and hit it close, you need to be having reasonable distances and good sides and good shots into the green.

It’s more a second-shot golf course I would say rather than the tee shot, but the tee shot is actually extremely demanding, as well. Without a doubt, a ball striker’s course, and obviously if on top of that, you can make putts you’ll be there on Sunday and trying to win it. But if your ball-striking is really good that week, you will definitely have a chance. I mean, it’s a test, and that’s something that I had to learn last year when on Saturday I went a little more aggressive than maybe I should have and ended up making more bogeys than I really wanted to. A lot of patience, stick to the strategy, and sometimes just to know that having a longer iron out of the fairway might be better than having a wedge out of the rough. -2018

Q. You’re not alone in this, that you’ve had some low rounds here and of course a high couple of rounds here, as well. A lot of the big names have done the same. What is it about here that creates volatility even for the best players in the world?
JUSTIN THOMAS:
It’s a shot maker’s course. I think you look at the list of winners here, and it’s all over the place. You have some guys, some of the best players in the world, you have some guys that maybe haven’t had the same amount of success as the top players, but it’s just — it truly is whoever is playing the best. You have to be in total control of your ball. You have to be working it one way off the tee, working it another way into the green, have your distances down to where you’re putting from the right spots. You can’t short-side yourself. You have to be good around the greens and around the par-5s in two. It really is a total package golf course, and I’ve always said I love this design. I think it’s just a well-designed, great-designed golf course, and it just requires a lot of different shots, a lot of different trajectories, a lot of different decisions while you’re out there. -2018

JORDAN SPIETH: But coming in here, I kind of feel like I’m free-wheeling. I don’t have a great history the last few years here, but I also have played the course really well before and had a chance to win. I love this place. I love the golf course. But if you’re not on — there’s a lot of small areas, small areas to hit your tee shots, small areas to hit your second shots, and you’ve really got to think through the place and let it come to you. This is not a place to go out and try and force birdies, and I think that’s kind of where I’ve gone the last few years that’s got me in trouble. Kind of approach it from a more patient viewpoint this year. -2018

Q. Will you use driver often?
PATRICK REED:
Probably. I always use driver. I love the driver. Yeah, I mean, today on the back nine except for hole 10, which driver goes — the fairway runs out, so you can’t hit driver there, and 12 today was blowing so hard into the wind I couldn’t cover the bunker on the left. Besides those two holes, today it’s driver on every hole I play. If the wind is a little calmer I’ll hit driver on 12 to try to drive the green. If not, you bail out right there. I feel like I can get up-and-down. So really on the back nine there’s only one hole that basically guaranteed I’m not going to hit driver on, but the rest of them probably. -2018

KEITH MITCHELL: It’s a lot tighter than I remembered around the greens. The greens seem — I don’t know if they have made them smaller but they sure seem smaller, so there’s a lot of places where you can short-side yourself, which you don’t want to do out here, so we’re really working on trying to hit the middle of the green, trying to find the putts that are into the green and get some good lines off the fairway, but it’s definitely a ball-striker’s golf course. -2018

Q. You seemed to like Pete’s course in Indianapolis pretty good the first time you played.
RORY MCILROY:
Yeah, that was different. Everything sort of widened at about 300. I liked that one. That was good. -2018

Q. Can you tell us which holes you’ll be using driver on and where you’ll be using 3-wood or something else, not the par-3s but the rest?
RORY MCILROY:
It would be a very windy day if I’m using driver on the 8th hole, but could happen. Let me see, I’ll probably only hit — depending upon the wind, one or two drivers on the front nine, on the 5th and the 9th. Then on the back nine there’s a few more. I’ll probably use it on 11, 14, 15, 16, and then maybe 18, depending upon the wind, but yeah, definitely more 2-irons and 3-woods off tees than driver this week. -2018

Q. Can you talk about your experience on this golf course? I know you’ve played it a long time, but is it something that you just haven’t felt comfortable on or is it just a matter of you haven’t had maybe your best stuff when you came?
STEVE STRICKER:
It’s just one of those courses you never feel comfortable on, I think bottom line. I haven’t had that many top-10s here, never really been in contention. A couple years maybe in contention to win, but it’s just a tough track. Visually it’s hard, conditions usually get harder as the tournament goes on, and when the weekend comes around it’s usually the toughest conditions we have. It’s just one of those courses where a slight mistake can really hurt you, and then all of a sudden you feel like you’re playing defensive and it’s tough to come back from a course like this when you’re trying to fight from behind.

Sometimes it goes the other way when you try to come back and you try to get aggressive, all of a sudden you make more mistakes and it leads to bigger numbers. So it’s just one of those courses you got to respect and put it in play as much as you can and get it on the greens and move on. -2018

Q. How do you feel about this golf course? Has this been one you’ve always liked?
WEBB SIMPSON:
I’ve always loved it. You know, I feel like it doesn’t give one particular golfer an advantage, and I’m always a fan of those golf courses. You know, you take a hole like 18, Rickie, the year he won hit driver every time, and you can do that. I hit 5-wood every time, and I have a much longer club than if I hit driver. But there’s so many holes like that that give you an opportunity to hit different clubs off the tee, and you really think your way around the golf course, and any given day even if it’s really windy you’re going to have plenty of birdie opportunities, and that’s fun. It’s fun to know if I play well I can shoot 6-under like I did today, or if you’re a little off you might shoot a few over. -2018

Q. Do you think it’s possible to be a horse for this course?
MATT KUCHAR:
I think this course is so unique, you look at the past champions and you’ve got the Tiger Woods and Davis Love and then Fred Funks of the game that win here. I think this course, if you’re on your game, this course suits you, you’ve got a real shot at winning here. There’s some places where you can kind of cherry-pick a handful of names and say these guys are going to be on top by week’s end. This course is pretty wide open for who can win here. -2018

Q. Your expectations any different when you come here, compared to other tournaments?
DUSTIN JOHNSON:
No, I mean my expectations are the same for every tournament. I want to play well and I want to put myself in a position to have a chance to win on Sunday and coming into here it’s no different. I haven’t had the best record here, but it’s a golf course that I like, I enjoy playing and I feel like I should play well here. -2018

Q. The thing about this tournament and this course is that it doesn’t really favor one particular style and really the field is wide open as opposed to maybe some of the others, maybe another major so, so given that, you got to like your chances maybe going into this event that anybody can win?
CHESSON HADLEY:
Absolutely. Anybody can win any golf tournament. Obviously like you said this one maybe doesn’t necessarily favor one player or the other, Tim Clark and Fred Funk have won here who are not some of the longer hitters, but Davis Love and Tiger and some of those, they obviously are long hitters. Maybe that’s why this tournament is so great is because of the course. Obviously the PGA TOUR, this is our major and I just, I think this place is awesome, it sets up well for me, I like the way it looks and yeah, I don’t feel like I answered that question as good as I could have, so we’re just going to move on. Sorry. -2018

Q. Does this place suit you, do you think?
TOMMY FLEETWOOD:
Yeah, I generally try and make sure most places suit me, but I do, I love the golf course. It’s one of my favorites. Whether I do well or not, it’s still one of my favorite courses, but it’s — you’ve just got to — yeah, you got to be smart. You got to hit it well, as well. Today, this morning, for what, 15, 16 holes, it was as easy as that course is ever going to play. It was so soft and there was no wind at all. So it’s kind of, it’s not like be-all-end-all if you shoot a good score or not, but it was kind of important to do it. -2018

Q. Your game’s in good shape coming in here. What are your expectations after seeing the way the course is playing?
BUBBA WATSON:
The golf course is the best shape we have ever seen it. We all say that. Never seen it this good. My best finish is 37th, so I’m — every time I come here I’m just trying to beat 37. I’m no good around this place. It’s very difficult for me because of the sights off the tee, some of the trees. It makes me fear hitting the shots that I want to hit so it causes me a lot of problems. -2018

Q. As the only guy to win both in March and May, although the courses are different, but do you prefer one over the other? Which one did you like better?
TIGER WOODS:
Well this golf course this time of year is far shorter. It’s always hot, ball’s always flying, and with it all being Bermuda, we’re getting runout. In March that’s not always the case. There are numerous years that I’ve had — we’ve all had mud balls and you have to deal with that type of difficulty coming into these greens. This time of year, no, ball’s rolling, ball’s flying, it’s usually dry, these greens are always dry this time of year, so very different. -2018

Q. Last year you played quite well here, and then to the final round. How important is course knowledge and the smarts to get around here and knowing where to take on risk and where not to?
PATRICK CANTLAY:
I would say big time. I really like this golf course. I like how in control of your golf ball you have to be to be able to perform well, how scorable it is if you do that. I think it does a great job of demanding accuracy off the tee and benefits you. It doesn’t take driver out of your hands, but you can lay back on certain holes to certain hole locations. It reminds me a lot of Hilton Head, and I like that golf course, as well. So I feel really comfortable around here. -2018

Q. Is it a take-your-medicine course, you have to take your medicine in a lot of places and say this is just the way it is?
PATRICK CANTLAY:
I don’t think so. If you get out of position, yes. But trying to do — at least my game plan is a lot of times I want to get it down there and in the fairway and be aggressive off the tee. And then if I have to play lay back from a not great spot, then I’ll do that and play safe on the way coming in. But I think you can really take advantage of this place and get a lot of wedges in your hands if you hit a lot of good tee shots. -2018

Q. How many drivers did you hit?
PATRICK CANTLAY:
That’s a good question. I don’t know. I hit driver on 1, hit driver on 2, driver on 4, driver on 5, driver on 7, driver on 9, driver on 11, driver on 14, 15, 16. -2018

Q. I know there’s no answers for this stuff sometimes, but why do you think everything is clicking this week? What is it about now?
WEBB SIMPSON:
I don’t know. You know, I’ve been a pro since 2008, and I feel like you never know when it’s going to — a week like this will come. But looking back, I’ve been healthy. I’ve been playing a lot of golf. I’ve been working on different aspects of my game maybe more than I normally do. But a big thing, I think, is that I’m comfortable on this golf course. Though I haven’t played well, I really like being here. I’ve played some courses where it just doesn’t look good to my eye and I’m uncomfortable, but here, every tee shot I seem to like. -2018

CANDACE REINHEIMER: We’re joined by Jordan Spieth in the media center at THE PLAYERS Championship. You’ve had a chance to get on the course, obviously, so curious your thoughts on the renovations.
JORDAN SPIETH:
I love it. They went to TifEagle and the grass is very full. Chipping areas are actually quite a bit easier, I think, than they have been in past years, and you can actually putt out of them. The greens are spectacular. They’re in phenomenal shape. The visual changes on 6 and 7 I think are pretty cool, and then the 12th hole being totally different, opens up some options, but for us, I’ll probably go for it when it’s a back left pin and I’ll probably lay up every other day. Yeah, it’s in phenomenal shape and the new facilities are making it — it makes it very easy for us to get out here and get everything we want to get done ahead of time in our preparation, and it’s a phenomenal week that us TOUR players thoroughly enjoy. It’s one of our favorite weeks. -2017

Q. First time here you kind of took to this course like a duck to water and had a very good year, and is there a short answer for what’s happened the last couple of years?
JORDAN SPIETH:
Not really. I love this course and I think it fits my game well. I want to think that it’s just been kind of a fluke couple times in a successful career at this event going forward where those two years could have been spread out over 15 and everything else is solid. So I made no bogeys the first 54 holes I ever played in this tournament, I guess somewhere around 60 holes I ever played in this tournament, on this golf course. That’s awesome. So I know I can play it really well if I play it smart, and I think I’ve just been trying to do a little too much the last couple years. Pete Dye’s pretty good at if you try and take some chances and you’re not quite on, that’s where you get in trouble and you can make some numbers. -2017

Q. Is it suited for your game?
CHEZ REAVIE:
Yeah, absolutely. Around here you’ve got to be in the fairways to give yourself chances to be aggressive, and then you have to hit greens. Once you start missing greens it’s really easy to make bogeys out here. If you do miss a green you’ve got to miss it on the proper side and hit as many as you can. -2017

Q. What are your thoughts on the new drivable 12th hole and what’s your experience out here taking on big risk successfully and unsuccessfully?
RORY McILROY:
Yeah, this is a golf course where I’ve had to rein in my game over the years. I think I missed my first three cuts here, and then since that I’ve had four pretty good finishes. I think my worst has been 12th in the last four years. But yeah, I’ve definitely limited the amount of drivers I’ve hit. It gets tight at 300 yards a lot out here, and you just have to make sure that you position yourself in the right areas, and I’ve always felt that driving is a big advantage for me if I can drive the ball well, where here it just doesn’t let me do that, and earlier on in my career I had to come to terms with that and come to terms with hitting the ball in the same positions as everyone else off the tee and then trying to beat them in from there. So it’s that sort of golf course.

But the 12th hole with the changes offers you a little bit of risk and reward, and I haven’t played it yet, so I can’t really comment on it too much, but from what I’ve seen from the photos, even if you do get it up around the green with that little pot bunker on the right and obviously with the water and runoff on the left, it’s going to be a tough 3. So depending where the pin is, where the tee is, I think you’re going to see a mixture of guys laying up and going for it. -2017

Q. There’s never been a back-to-back champion here. The nature of the golf course and the fact that it opens it up to almost anybody who is in this field to win, do you think that might come into why there’s never been a player who’s been able to win this back-to-back?
JASON DAY:
Yeah. Firstly, there’s a lot of history behind this golf course with regards to the champions that have played here. I think it’s very, very difficult golf course. Once again, we do have a little bit of weather here every now and then, but for the most part it’s a very difficult golf course at this time, especially with the Bermudagrass and with the current position of them actually thinking about changing the date, that will change the way the grass plays and everything else, so that may change the way that I view the golf course as well, because I tend to like kind of overseeded ryegrass and more so than the Bermuda, but once again, I think what won me the tournament last year was I played the back nine probably better than most, probably best out of everyone in the field last year, and I think that’s what holds the key to winning around this golf course is playing the back nine best. -2017

Q. Now that you had a chance to visually see the 12th hole and play the 12th hole, what do you think your risk-reward strategy is going to be, and how much will wind, either downwind or wind against you, impact that strategy?
JASON DAY:
With regard to the green, the green, I was here last Saturday and it was running 12.8 and that’s pretty slick. If you hit it right, the fairway chip is not too bad, but if you hit it in the bunkers or the rough and get yourself out of position, that green slopes away pretty quick. I played it yesterday, and some parts that have slope on the left, if you just dropped a ball and let it just kind of trickle down, it would go in the water. So, any sort of speed with anything is going to go in the water. -2017

Q. You play aggressively; is it a little bit more difficult to dial it back here? You kind of have to change the mindset, right?
JON RAHM:
Yeah, it is hard. I’m not going to lie. There’s a lot of holes where I would just love it tee it up and rip driver, but I can’t. You know, I’ve just got to be smart. It’s going to be hard to be smart. Just try to keep it in the fairway, the short grass. Everybody has been telling me that. It’s been good advice, but it’s still hard for me to want to show up on 18 and when I see a long par-4 to not hit driver. It’s something me and my caddie will have to talk about, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be using some irons this week. -2017

Q. Is that kind of one of the things with inexperience, just kind of having to learn these things from place to place and learn the tricks of how to play?
JON RAHM:
Yeah. I mean, learning the tricks is always important. Courses like this especially. This is a really tricky course, but I’d like to think that Karsten golf course at ASU is a Pete Dye design, so hopefully I can get some positivity. It’s not nearly as difficult, but maybe I can take back something that I learned there, and basically what I learned is that even if the hole is short, even being close to the green doesn’t mean you have a better chance of birdie. -2017

Q. You’ve got José Manuel on the bag this week, What’s José’s reaction been like carrying your clubs the first time back?
SERGIO GARCIA:
Yeah, Glen had a little baby boy a week ago, so I decided to give him a month off so he could help his wife take care of the two little ones. -2017

Q. Patrick, there’s usually a bit of a learning curve to this course; doesn’t seem to apply to you today and hasn’t seemed to apply to you this season. Why is that?
PATRICK CANTLAY:
I’ve played the course before. I played that junior tournament out here twice. I felt comfortable, and I prepped really well for this event, and I feel comfortable out here, and I like the fast and firm conditions. I like the golf course. -2017

Q. Is this a place, because you played those two junior PLAYERS here, is there a comfort level here?
PATRICK CANTLAY:
Yeah, I know the property and the routing, other than the greens, it feels very similar to me. There’s maybe more pine straw and less rough. I like the golf course. I like golf courses where there’s a premium on hitting the ball in the fairway and playing smart shots into the greens. -2017

Q. How do you find this course? Do you like it? Suit your eye?
JB HOLMES:
It doesn’t suit my eye the best. I’ve played well here in the past, there’s a few holes that dogleg left. I like to hit a cut, so I have to work on hitting the draw coming into this tournament. But it’s always in great shape, it’s always a fun event to play, great finishing holes, so it’s always looking forward to playing it for sure when it comes up. -2017

Q. Do you feel like sometimes your length is negated a little bit here?
JB HOLMES:
Yeah, I feel like a lot of times you can’t hit the driver around here. The fairways run out so you kind of take that out of your hands. I like hitting the driver, so that’s sometimes the frustrating part about this golf course.-2017

Q. How many times did you hit driver today?
JB HOLMES:
I don’t know, probably six or seven. -2017

Q. Is it a different feeling playing at home with family around?
DAVID LINGMERTH:
Yeah, it is my fourth PLAYERS now and I think I’ve always had guests from Sweden coming over to visit and it’s always a treat. Get to sleep in your own bed and play at a great event like this one, so it’s always something I’m looking forward to every year and always enjoy it. -2017

Q. What can you draw on from your past experiences here and you played this course a bunch, but how can you use those experiences to help you this week?
DAVID LINGMERTH:
Well, like you said, I played it a bunch, I’ve had my misses and I’ve had my great moments as well and pretty much every time you walk around this place you try to learn something new and I feel like I should have enough experience to make it be a fun week here, all the way through Sunday. So, yeah, just looking forward to a continuation of this tournament. -2017

Q. You mentioned that you played here before in college and such, so do you already have a comfort level or is it still pretty nerve wracking being your first time?
WESLEY BRYAN:
Oh, I mean I’ve played here probably a dozen times or so, so it’s not anything that, it’s not like coming to an event that I’ve never seen the golf course before, so it adds a little bit of a comfort factor there, but just looking forward to getting my first PLAYERS Championship underway and it’s a tournament that I’ve dreamed of playing in a long time, so to actually be here is really cool. -2017

Q. Any similarities at all here to Harbour Town?
WESLEY BRYAN:
You get a lot of the same visual looks at Harbour Town as you get out here. I think this is a little bigger golf course, it’s a little more, they’re bigger greens, it’s a little more demanding, it’s more demanding going into the greens, missing it in the proper places, because you can kind of fake it around Harbour Town at times and on the greens with bailout areas. But here there’s really no bailout and it all just kind of rolls off every corner of the green. So there’s a lot of similarities, visually, what you’ll get off the tees, but going into the greens there’s some pretty big differences. -2017

Q. Have you played here before? Do you have any preconceived notions coming here?
BLAYNE BARBER:
Yeah, I played the Junior PLAYERS, AJGA twice, and I actually won the Florida State Amateur here in 2009. So I have good memories here, I like the golf course, I’m a Florida boy, so I feel comfortable on Bermuda grass, and I grew up coming to the PLAYERS as a young kid, so it’s fun to be here playing for the first time. -2017

Q. Did you like this course the first time you saw it? Did you feel like it suited your game?
JASON DAY:
I thought it was very tough. Once again, this course you can — you have to hit a lot of 3-woods around here, especially if you’re a longer hitter, and I always said that 3-wood was always kind of that uncomfortable club that I’ve always had in the bag. I worked very, very hard on hitting a lot of 3-wood tee shots and fairway 3-woods off the ground last week when I was coming into this, just preparing back home in Columbus, because I knew that I was going to hit a lot of them. -2016

Q. Just assess your week, how you feel about that.
JUSTIN THOMAS:
I feel great. I felt really good coming into this week, even off of a missed cut. I played really well last week, I just I looked like I had never putted in my life when I got to the greens. So, I love this course, I get, it’s just something about it, it really is one of my favorite courses to play when it gets in this tournament condition. You just can’t fake it around here. So I was excited to get on a championship-type venue and a great field like this and obviously today went really well, so I was happy to end on a high note. -2016

Q. (No Microphone.) [Question about greens getting away from them]
MARK RUSSELL:
Well, we have done the same thing all week. We have been double cutting these greens and double rolling them and trying to get them firmed up.

And what happened today was just kind of a perfect storm with the weather. We weren’t expecting a 20 mile an hour wind all day, and the humidity 30 percent, not a cloud in the sky. And they just, you know, sped up on us. -2016, R3

Q. How were the putting greens?
RORY McILROY:
I mean, it’s like a U.S. Open out there. I can’t really describe it any other way. I mean, it got to the point where when you’re grounding your putter, you can’t square it up because the surfaces are so shiny and so slippy. It was difficult. It was really difficult. And then to have — obviously we played in the morning yesterday, and to have such a drastic speed change in the greens from when we played yesterday to today, I just found I had a really difficult time to adjust to them. I stood up here yesterday and I said it’s amazing how differently the course plays from morning to afternoon, but I didn’t expect it to be like that out there this afternoon. That was borderline unfair on a few holes. A few pin positions were on crowns, and you dribble a putt by, all of a sudden it’s six feet by. For the way they — I’m not sure if they expected to get the greens this firm or — there was a few pins out there that I felt were just a little too much on the edge. It was obviously difficult, and I felt like I was holding it together okay, but I think I hit 16 out of 18 greens out there. I mean, I played well. Tee to green I played well. I think I had five three-putts. -2016, R3

Q. Talk about the conditions. It was a different golf course today than the first two days.
KEN DUKE:
This is the kind of PLAYERS Championship that we usually see with the wind and the firm greens. The first two days, I don’t know where that came from, the soft conditions, and obviously the scores really showed it. This is THE PLAYERS with the wind and the firmness. It was tough out there. You had to respect the whole golf course. -2016, R3

Q. How satisfying is it to close with those two scores given your previous history at this place?
JASON DAY:
I was just looking at Rory, Rory didn’t go to well his first three starts and the last three starts he’s been playing great.

I think that the more times you come here, the more you know about the golf course, the better it is for you. It’s just taken me a little bit longer.

But I grew up on grass like this and I feel — coming into the week, I felt great about my game. -2016, R3

Q. How would you describe the greens today?
KEVIN CHAPPELL:
Dead. Balding. I don’t know. They were just fast, and you can’t really sole your putter. It’s constantly sliding, and it’s really hard to find square. Everyone is playing them. They actually are fairly receptive for how quick they are, so it’s kind of a strange combination. -2016, R3

Q. That’s pretty good for this round. Are you surprised at the change in conditions not just day to day but morning to afternoon?
BILLY HORSCHEL
: Oh, yes. You know, the wind wasn’t blowing too bad. Obviously the announcers are probably going to say that the wind is playing an issue, but it’s not that bad. We came back first thing this morning, there was still moisture in the greens and the greens weren’t this quick. They still were very receptive. You hit a good shot, it’s going to check.

But man, felt like I was putting on dance floors out there. We all did. Some of the putts I saw between Kevin and I and Bill, I’ve never seen putts that quick before. Augusta is probably the quickest greens we play all year, and I’m sorry, Sawgrass made those greens look like 8s on the stimpmeter. -2016, R3

Q. What’s the difference at this place? Your last couple years you haven’t played too well.
COLT KNOST:
This place is tough. I think you have to play it a few times and get to know it a little bit. I had to realize that this is a perfect golf course for me. It’s a lot like Hilton Head. You have to hit fairways, you have to hit greens and you just have to be patient around here. It’s not that long, which is really good for me. I don’t really like the long ones too much. -2016

Q. As a first timer, was there a point where you were like, all right, this is a little easier than I thought it was going to be?
HUDSON SWAFFORD:
I mean, at the end of the day it’s just another golf tournament. It’s the same as the last few golf tournaments. A few more people.

But I live an hour from here, didn’t have to get on a plane, grew up two and a half hours from here, Bermuda grass, it’s kind of home. I like playing on Bermuda. I like Pete Dye golf courses.

So, I mean, first timer, yeah. I played the golf course a number of times growing up in junior events. -2016

Q. You played this course a handful of times now, how would you describe it?
FRANCESCO MOLINARI:
I like it. I liked it from the first time I played here. I had a decent week, I think I finished top-10 the first year. So it suits my game, it suits my eyes, and it’s nice to be out here playing. -2016

Q. Talk about them being bunched, does that have something to do with the golf course?
RORY MCILROY:
Yeah, I think everyone sort of plays from the same positions, no style of game really has an advantage out here. So, yeah, it’s definitely to do with the golf course and the golf course setup that it is the way it is. -2015

Q. Sergio talked about feeling like he left a few shots out there. That seems to be a common theme among some guys. Do you feel that way and also kind of on the bright side, is that also the golf course?
RORY MCILROY:
Yeah, I feel like I left a lot of shots out there. I saw Sergio played pretty well today and the wind is down as well, so the course is a little more gettable maybe, but it’s firming up. I would like to see the greens a little firmer tomorrow again. I think that firm greens definitely separates the field. I would like to see firm greens. I feel like because it’s been quite receptive this week that’s what’s made everyone so bunched together on the leaderboard. -2015

Q. Does this make it official you’ll never play another event that’s not played on Bermudagrass?
KEVIN KISNER:
It’s getting close. Yeah, it’s funny, I don’t get along with that poa annua too well. I don’t know what it is, either; I guess it’s just how I grew up. But Bermuda is sweet, and seems like every time around this time of year I start playing better, so it must be the grass. -2015

Q. You like this course, don’t you?
BILL HAAS:
I do. It’s a premium on ball-striking, and I think if you do hit it well, anyone can win, which I think is a great quality about this golf course. You don’t just see the bombers winning. It’s good for everyone. I think when you leave here and if you don’t shoot well, there’s usually no second-guessing why it happened. You probably mis-hit it a little bit or you putted poorly, and if you do well here, you’ve earned it, and that’s what I like about it. -2015

Q. As someone who’s had success here, is there a certain part of your game that needs to be on to have a chance on Sunday?
SERGIO GARCIA:
Like I said before, it’s the kind of golf course that is asking you to be on with pretty much every aspect of your game. I think ball striking is very, very important here because you can be — you can’t be going into these greens from the rough every time. The greens are too small and if they get a little firm, too difficult to hold, if you’re going from the rough all the time. There is some holes that you have some openings, but a lot of the holes are asking you to be in the fairway and be able to hit it high and stop it quickly. So obviously ball striking is important, but you can’t forget short game. I think personally I feel like if your ball striking is really, really good, because the greens are small, you can kind of get away with the so-so short game, but if your ball striking is a little bit off, then your short game has to be very sharp. -2015

Q. Is that one of the keys here, knowing when to put your foot on the gas and knowing when to knock it in and make par?
BEN MARTIN:
Yeah, I think it’s a classic kind of Pete Dye design. I like most of his courses. I like Harbour Town a lot. This is probably the closest course we have to Harbour Town. So I like to think my way around the course, I think he makes you think your way around the course. So it’s a good track. -2015

Q. Ben, first-timers at this tournament generally don’t fare all that well. Obviously there’s a lot of you guys at the top of the leaderboard now. Are you surprised at that at all, and how do you think the pressure will be ramped up tomorrow?
BEN MARTIN:
To be honest, I haven’t really looked at like the history of first-timers and winning or playing well. Even though it’s my first time playing the tournament, I’ve played the course eight or ten times before, so I had a feel for it and kind of knew the layout a little bit coming in. -2015

Q. You’re a good Bermudagrass player, you grew up playing on Bermudagrass; do you think that gives you an advantage?
DUSTIN JOHNSON:
I hope so, but Bermuda’s always very tricky, especially the rough. The rough is always tough playing out of Bermuda rough. But growing up playing in it definitely helps. -2015

Q. You got one round in the 60s here out of 18. Is it the golf course, maybe how you’ve been playing coming in different years, or how do you explain maybe the lack of success here?
DUSTIN JOHNSON:
I don’t know. I like the golf course a lot, but it’s just like I said, it’s tough, it’s always windy, it plays difficult. I think the greens are tricky. I think putting is a big deal here. You’ve got to putt it well. I feel like I’m playing a lot more consistent this year. I’m driving it a little bit straighter. I feel like I’m hitting more greens. So that will definitely help around here because if you hit a lot of greens, you’re going to shoot a good score around here. -2015

Q. When you look at the bunched leaderboard and you realize the volatility that’s been going on the last two or three days, does that kind of change your game plan at all tomorrow, the way you would play the golf course?
CHRIS KIRK:
No, not really. I’d probably play this course with a relatively conservative game plan. It’s just kind of the way it always is here. The course changes so much from morning to afternoon, especially on a hot day like today. Before I even teed off, there were guys finishing shooting 6-under and stuff like that and getting up close to the lead, and so it definitely lends itself to that. I would bet that if you took the first half of the field today and the second half of the field today, the scoring average would be a couple strokes different as the course firms up and those greens get a little bit crispy. -2015

Q. You played here one other time, 2013, what did you take from that experience that’s helping you this go round?
BRANDEN GRACE:
I had actually a good tournament back then as well in 2013. I just finished off badly the final day. I was laying Top 10 with three to go and finished in the 30s. But that happens. I think I learned something from those mistakes. I enjoy this type of golf course. You have to play, not really safe, but hit it in the fairways and take the opportunities when they come, and stay patient, and I managed to do that so far. -2015

Q. You grew up in Georgia and won in Puerto Rico, so these kind of grasses you’re pretty okay with?
SCOTT BROWN:
Yeah, I’m very familiar with the grass. Bermuda is like second nature to me, reading them. I can see grain really well and I kind of know which way they’re going, chipping around these areas, I kind of know where it’s growing into you. It’s real easy to read for me. -2015

Q. Do you log a lot of rounds here now that you’re a quasi local?
BILLY HORSCHEL:
I don’t play here ever.

Q. Practice here, anything?
BILLY HORSCHEL:
I practice here. But that’s sort of dwindling down. I’m sort of practicing at my club, The Plantation, a little bit more. More or less I’m going up to Sea Island to Frederica. -2015

Q. This is a ball-striker’s golf course but is there a level of comfort here that maybe you feel that other guys don’t because you’re familiar with it?
BILLY HORSCHEL:
Yeah, I think that I’m comfortable with the tee shots you got to hit off the shapes and everything, and I’m comfortable with the shots into the greens. So, I think that’s what I can take most from it. The greens are nowhere near what they are like this the rest of the year, so the break, I can have an understanding on how much it’s going to break, but it’s different with these fast greens and firm and everything, but, yeah, there are just shots off the tees and iron shots into the greens and everything, you can feel comfortable with, because I’ve hit them hundreds of times. -2015

Q. Is there something out here that suits your eye? You played well on the other side a couple years ago on WEB.COM.
CHESSON HADLEY:
Yeah, you know, I think I just love the whole tournament. Everything about this tournament, from how they run it, to the food, to the course, to where we’re staying and everything is just great about it. It’s very simple, it’s efficient, and it just, I just have good vibes here, obviously, from winning here for the WEB.COM TOUR Championship and, obviously, I’d love to shoot a really good one tomorrow and it would be pretty cool to have, to win both tournaments here. Certainly that’s why I’m here and I want to go play well and win tomorrow. -2015

Q. Being a first-timer, what advice have you sought out or gotten about playing the course here?
PATRICK REED:
I got a lot of advice when I was at home with Lee Trevino. I spent a day with him, and just a lot of those things, play to your strengths, play to the angles. This is an angle golf course. There’s a lot of double doglegs. You have to know where to position the golf ball, and that’s just one of those things I’ve gotten focused on, and hopefully at the end of the week, it works out. -2014

Q. How did you spend the last two weeks after Hilton Head? And then secondly, a word that’s been used to describe this place is some players will call it uncomfortable, and I’m just curious, you’re a guy that’s played it before, obviously different conditions, but how do you sort of feel around this place in terms of the course?
JORDAN SPIETH:
About this golf course, I wouldn’t say that it’s terribly uncomfortable. I think that the approach shots can be uncomfortable. The tee shots, there’s some leeway on one side or the other to hit the ball. So I feel off the tee very comfortable here. I feel like I’m driving the ball well right now leading into the event. With the approach shots, definitely you want to say away from the swales. It’s very tight, it’s pure, it’s very tight, into-the-grain Bermuda that you don’t really know what shot to hit from down there, whether you’re going to try and nip it and spin it or you’re going to bump it or even putt it. So certainly when you’re hitting your second shots I think you’ll see a lot of bailouts on not wanting to be in certain places because they’re so difficult to get up-and-down from if you’re too aggressive.

So that’s kind of my thing is sometimes I’m too dangerous in the shots that I play, but if I draw back and approach it like it is a major, like I approached Augusta, then I should be able to play the safe shots and stay away from that trouble. -2014

Q. Did you hit driver all day today?
GARY WOODLAND:
I only hit four. Callaway strengthened my 3-wood for me. I’m hitting a pretty good 3-wood, so I don’t have to hit driver. -2014

Q. At a tournament like this, does high scoring reflect in any way negatively on the tournament or the course, or low scoring? If the guys shoot too many good numbers, is that a good thing or a bad thing for the prestige of the tournament?
SERGIO GARCIA:
Well, it depends on who you ask. I’ve always liked this tournament because of what it is, because it’s usually not a long course but it plays hard. I won with 5-under. There’s guys that have won it with even or 1-under. Then there’s a couple times where guys have shot 14, 15, 24-under or something like that like Norman did. But for the most part, usually if the weather is right and it plays right, it’s the kind of tournament that gets won between 7-and-12-under. -2014

RORY MCILROY: Yeah, definitely. I feel like I figured this golf course out and I can play it much better than I have been able to in the past. It doesn’t frustrate me quite as much as it used to. You know you’re coming here and you’re expecting to hit fairway woods off tees and irons and trying to position your ball.
But, yeah, the scoring’s really good out there. There’s a lot of low scores; and 70 I feel is going to be pretty average by the end of the day. So I want to go out tomorrow afternoon and shoot something a bit lower to get myself into contention going into the weekend. -2014

Q. You said you’ve done away with the frustration, do you feel comfortable on this golf course?
RORY MCILROY:
I do, yeah. I do. There’s some tee shots that I still don’t feel that comfortable on, so I sort of dial it back a little bit. You saw Harris and Justin hit drivers on some holes where I didn’t. And that’s just because I feel if I hit a really good drive, it could go through the fairway; or if it gets away from me just a little bit, this golf course can sort of exaggerate how bad your misses are. So I hit it to the corners of the doglegs and sort of played it from there. -2014

RORY MCILROY: Visually it’s awkward. You got tee boxes lining you up in wrong directions and you’re having to hit across a lot of fairways. The depth perception is hard with the way the trees are. It’s just, visually, it’s a typical Pete Dye golf course, it’s just visually very awkward. -2014

Q. How many drivers did you hit in a day out here?
BUBBA WATSON:
Normally hit it on 1, but I didn’t today. I hit it on 2, 5, 7, 11. Depending on where the pin is I hit it on 12. Today I hit it on 12. 14 I hit it. 16 I hit it and 18 I hit it. So quite a few. Probably about 10? Nine, 10, depending upon wind direction. -2014

Q. Can you describe your comfort level on this golf course. It seems to be a golf course that fits your eye.
SERGIO GARCIA:
Yes, they say that there’s courses for horses. I think that, unfortunately, Augusta is one that doesn’t get into my eyes for some reason, I seem to struggle to feel comfortable there. I see too many shots at Augusta.

Here, I see less shots. I see, in my head, I have everything a bit more clear of what I want to do. Then it’s a matter of being able to do it. I’ve been fortunate to play well here, I’ve been fortunate to do well for awhile now here, so I’m always, obviously, always excited to come back and give it a shot. -2014

Q. You’ll hit driver maybe a little more often because it’s softer but the fairways are more receptive, so does it even out as far as trying to hit the fairways? Will you hit driver more often?
MATT KUCHAR:
It sounded like you said the same thing, that you’ll hit driver more and the fairways are more receptive, so yes, I’ll hit driver more.

My game plan is not going to change. I probably hit driver more than most guys around here. I probably feel like the driving is a strength of mine, I feel like particularly accuracy. I think a lot of guys, I see a lot of guys hit very few drivers here. I’m probably one of the guys you would say I hit driver off most tees, try to be aggressive on a handful of holes. 4 comes to mind, 4 fits my shot shape really well. Just a little bit of left-to-right curve to it. And most I’ll be one of the few guys in the field to hit driver on 4. But I feel like that’s a hole I hit a great drive, now I’m looking to take advantage, whereas 4 is kind of an iron for most guys or 3-wood and a short iron, but I’m trying to go kind of driver, wedge, where I’m really looking to score on that hole. So I hit driver more than most, and certainly not going to change that game plan with the conditions. -2014

Junior Golf Experience at TPC Sawgrass

–>2010 Junior PLAYERS Championship Results
–>2009 Junior PLAYERS Championship results
–>2008 PLAYERS Championship Results
–>2007 Junior PLAYERS Championship Results

-Played at the Stadium Course and Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass

Tournament Notes

2019: Tournament returns to March which means a return to overseeded conditions.
2017: TPC Sawgrass underwent renovations after the 2016 edition with all 18 greens being resurfaced with TifEagle Bemuda greens to replace the Mini Verde. The new tee box was added on the par-4 12th to provide a risk-reward driveable hole. Many other holes saw slight modifcations or reconfigurations during the renovation.

This article has 5 comments

  1. Pingback: THE PLAYERS Fantasy Preview

  2. Pingback: THE PLAYERS Fantasy Preview

  3. Pingback: PGA Fantasy Breakdown: DFS Tips and Strategies for The Players Championship | FantasyLabs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *