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The First Look: THE PLAYERS Championship

TPC Sawgrass (THE PLAYERS Stadium Course) will once again play host to the most prominent field on the PGA TOUR, as the world’s best look to add an iconic title to their trophy case.

FIELD NOTES: Forty-nine of the top 50 players on the current FedExCup Playoffs and Eligibility Points List will compete, as well as 43 of the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking … Eight PLAYERS winners and six FedExCup champions will tee it up, led by 2019 PLAYERS champion and reigning FedExCup titleholder Rory McIlroy … All 14 players who have won on TOUR this season will be at TPC Sawgrass … At least 30 players will compete in their first PLAYERS, including Min Woo Lee, who earned a spot via the top 50 on the world ranking after The Honda Classic. The brother of Minjee Lee (No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings) is looking to acquire PGA TOUR status via the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai Rankings at year’s end. The top 10 players on the Race to Dubai, not already exempt, will earn PGA TOUR cards for the following season … Justin Suh earned a start at TPC Sawgrass after finishing atop the Korn Ferry Tour’s 2022 season-long standings. If not otherwise exempt, the winners of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard and Puerto Rico Open will round out the field.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – MARCH 3: Views of the 16th and 17th holes at TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, prior to THE PLAYERS Championship, on March 3, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rankin White/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Highest-Rated Players in the Field

FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 600 FedExCup points.

COURSE: TPC Sawgrass (Stadium), 7,275 yards, par 72. Built in 1980, THE PLAYERS Stadium Course has long been considered one of the best and trickiest layouts on TOUR. Pete Dye’s masterpiece underwent a renovation in 2016, and the par-4 12th was made drivable the following year.

Effective this year, a new back tee on the par-5 ninth could make for the first 600-yard hole in PLAYERS Championship history.

STORYLINES: The evolving battle for the world’s No. 1 ranking will continue at TPC Sawgrass with McIlroy looking to capture his second PLAYERS while Scottie Scheffler and current No. 1 Jon Rahm chase their first Tiffany & Co. trophy … There has never been a repeat winner of THE PLAYERS … This is the season’s first event to offer 600 FedExCup points to the winner, while the top TOUR pros will compete for a record $4.5 million first-place check from a $25 million purse … Among the first-timers at TPC Sawgrass is Tom Kim, who was a star at last fall’s Presidents Cup and won twice in the back half of 2022. He was the first player since Tiger Woods to win twice on TOUR before turning 21 … Ben Taylor, the only player missing from the top 50 on the FedExCup, has a valid excuse: his wedding … Fingers are crossed for a traditional PLAYERS Championship cadence in 2023. The event was canceled in 2020, had a significantly reduced fan capacity in 2021, and last year required a Monday finish after torrential rain early in the week.

72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Greg Norman (1994).

18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Fred Couples (Round 3, 1992), Greg Norman (Round 1, 1994), Roberto Castro (Round 1, 2013), Martin Kaymer (Round 1, 2014); Jason Day (Round 1, 2016); Colt Knost (Round 2, 2016); Webb Simpson (Round 2, 2018); Brooks Koepka (Round 4, 2018); Dustin Johnson (Round 4, 2022)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – MARCH 05: A view of the 17th green from the drone prior to THE PLAYERS Championship at Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 5, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

LAST TIME: Cameron Smith started both his front and back nines at TPC Sawgrass with four straight birdies on route to a final-round 66 and a one-stroke victory over Anirban Lahiri. The Australian had circles on his card on Nos. 1-4 before bogeying Nos. 7-9. He made the turn and added birdies on each of Nos. 10-13 and another on the par-3 17th for good measure – one-putting eight of his final nine holes and making a record-tying 10 birdies in the round. It was his fifth win on TOUR. Lahiri, who was the 54-hole leader, also birdied the 17th and needed one more on 18 to tie Smith, but his approach came up short of the green. Paul Casey finished third at 11 under while Kevin Kisner (10 under) and Keegan Bradley (9 under) rounded out the top five. It was a week unlike any other at THE PLAYERS, with weather wreaking havoc on the best players in the world. The first round alone lasted more than 54 hours. It was the first Monday finish at THE PLAYERS since Fred Funk’s victory in 2005.

How to Follow (all times are ET)

Television: Thursday-Friday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC)

PGA TOUR Live is available exclusively on ESPN+

• Main Feed: primary tournament-coverage featuring the best action from across the course

• Marquee Group: new “marquee group” showcasing every shot from each player in the group

• Featured Groups: traditional PGA TOUR LIVE coverage of two concurrent featured groups

• Featured Holes: a combination of par-3s and iconic or pivotal holes

Radio: Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. ET. Saturday-Sunday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PexcelGATOUR.com/liveaudio)

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