This week marks the 26th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to the Sunshine State for the Players Championship. An elite field of 144 players will tee it up this week at TPC Sawgrass, where the treacherous par-3 17th hole - and its island green - awaits.
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Tiger Woods won last year, but is unable to defend while recovering from back surgery. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Ponte Vedra Beach:
1. Matt Kuchar: Basically a machine this season, with eight top-10 finishes in 11 starts including a stretch of four in a row that he just capped with a win at Hilton Head. Kuchar won here in 2012 and knows his way around the Stadium Course, and he currently leads the PGA Tour in scoring average. He remains one of the most consistent players on Tour, a trait that should serve him well this week.
2. Henrik Stenson: Remember him? The reigning Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup champ has gotten off to a quiet start in 2014, but he has three top 20s in his last four starts. Stenson was a winner here in 2009 and has an enviable track record at TPC Sawgrass, one that includes four top-15 finishes since 2006 in addition to his win five years ago. He remains somewhat under the radar, but that might not last much longer.
3. Jim Furyk: Furyk nearly pulled off an impressive comeback in Charlotte, where a final-round 65 left him one shot behind J.B. Holmes last week. It marked his fifth straight top-20 finish dating back to March, and Furyk's accuracy off the tee will prove to be an asset this week. A resident of Ponte Vedra, he's playing a home game this week and has contended as recently as 2009, when he tied for fifth.
4. Luke Donald: The Englishman has been a beacon of consistency at this event in recent years. Since 2007 he has made seven straight cuts, with only one finish worse than T-27 and a pair of top 10s (T-4 in 2011, sixth in 2012). Donald's tee-to-green consistency is rewarded at the Stadium Course, and he brings with him some momentum after a runner-up finish at Harbour Town.
5. Sergio Garcia: The center of attention a year ago, Garcia returns after a rare missed cut at Augusta National but otherwise playing some great golf in 2014. He has a trio of top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour to go along with a win in Qatar in January, and Garcia's history at TPC Sawgrass goes well beyond last year's escapades on the 71st hole. He won in 2008, was a runner-up the year prior and has six top-25 finishes here since 2006.
6. Adam Scott: The Aussie is one of four players who can move to No. 1 this week and he heads back to Ponte Vedra on the 10-year anniversary of his breakthrough win. Scott cracked the top 20 each of the last two years and tied for 14th at the Masters despite third-round struggles. He nearly moved to the top of the rankings at Bay Hill, and may not allow another opportunity to do so pass him by.
7. Jordan Spieth: Spieth is one of 15 first-timers in the field this week, a subsection that usually doesn't fare too well on the Stadium Course. But Spieth wasn't supposed to contend at the Masters, either, and he tied for second. Conventional wisdom does not seem to apply to the 20-year-old, who is now among the top 10 golfers in the world and who continues to exceed even the loftiest of expectations.
8. Rory McIlroy: The Ulsterman is on a bit of a tear, with four top-10 finishes in his last five starts including T-8 finishes at both Augusta National and Quail Hollow, where he successfully battled back from the cut line each time. McIlroy has missed three of four cuts in this event, but he did tie for eighth last year and if he is in control of the flat stick - as he was for much of the week in Charlotte - he'll be in contention come Sunday.
9. Zach Johnson: Johnson has cooled since his torrid start to 2014, but he did notch a T-14 finish last week at Quail Hollow. The veteran was a runner-up here in 2013 and boasts a strong history in this event, with four straight top-25 finishes. TPC Sawgrass is not a course where you have to be long to win - just ask Tim Clark - and Johnson's tee-to-green prowess is among the best around.
10. Lee Westwood: Westwood had eight birdies and an eagle last week in Charlotte, but the mistakes piled up and he somehow still missed the cut. Prior to that, the Englishman had been playing well, with a win in Malaysia after a seventh-place showing at the Masters. Westwood tied for eighth here last year and shared fourth place in 2010, when he held the lead after both the second and third rounds.