Things Change Remain the Same at PLAYERS

By Associated PressMay 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- What some bill as the fifth-best golf tournament looked more like an open house Monday.
 
One by one, players pulled their courtesy cars to the front of the 77,000-square-foot clubhouse at THE PLAYERS Championship and were pointed in every direction. Volunteers guided them to the locker room, to a players-only dining room where not even their agents were allowed, and to the ``Tunnel of Champions'' that led them out a back door to the refurbished Players Stadium Course on the TPC Sawgrass.
 
TPC Sawgrass
Workers in March get the course ready to host THE PLAYERS Championship. (WireImage)
Most of them didn't know where they were.
 
``I'm a little lost,'' U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. ``It's such a big building.''
 
And despite the new look at THE PLAYERS Championship, one thing hasn't changed: No one is quite sure what it is.
 
The fifth major?
 
That won't get too many arguments because the golf course is superb, the field is the strongest and deepest of the year and the purse for this year's tournament will be $9 million, the richest of any tournament in the world.
 
But there are only four majors, which is why Jeff Sluman's famous line from four years ago still holds true.
 
``When you go to Denny's and order the Grand Slam breakfast, they don't give you five things, do they?''
 
One reason THE PLAYERS moved from March to May was to give golf a major event every month, starting with the Masters in April through the PGA Championship in August and even the FedEx Cup finale in September.
 
But even with a new clubhouse and a refurbished golf course meant to play firm and fast in any weather, there is still enough evidence to suggest that one of these is not like the other four.
 
Tiger Woods, coming off a two-shot victory at the Wachovia Championship, won't arrive until Tuesday. Woods arrives no later than Monday for majors, sometimes even Sunday.
 
Major championships attract fans from all over the country who come to watch. THE PLAYERS largely remains a local event, drawing most of the crowd from county limits, and a lot of them come to be seen. The PGA TOUR is starting a campaign to attract more fans from outside the state of Florida, although this will take time.
 
And it probably doesn't help that THE PLAYERS is held a week after the Wachovia Championship, which drew seemingly endless comparisons with a major championship last week, especially after Woods said he was ``ecstatic'' to have won considering the quality of the golf course against the strength of the field in such difficult conditions.
 
More than one player was asked at Quail Hollow what the difference was between last week and this week.
 
In every case, there was a pause for contemplation before a nod was given to THE PLAYERS.
 
But they had to think about it.
 
All this feeds into a broader problem at PGA TOUR headquarters: THE PLAYERS is its showcase event, but the conversation seems to always be what the tournament is not, rather than what it is.
 
``I think enough fun has been made of their place in the golf kingdom,'' Sluman said over the weekend. ``There are still only four majors, but it is an unbelievable golf course with bar-none the best field in golf.''
 
Shouldn't that be enough?
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem has said that he only wants THE PLAYERS Championship to be the best it can be, and he has stopped at nothing to accomplish that. The TOUR wants the tournament to be known as ``THE PLAYERS,'' similar to ``The Masters.'' Television coverage will include only four minutes of commercials every hour, just like the Masters.
 
The winner of THE PLAYERS gets as many FedEx Cup points as the winner of a major. In the World Golf Hall of Fame ballots, THE PLAYERS is listed in bold print alongside the four majors.
 
``Nobody likes being force-fed,'' Sluman said. ``I think everybody associated with the tournament needs to let it take its course. It will find its spot wherever that ends up in five, 10, 15 or 50 years. But just let it happen.''
 
Ogilvy called it the fifth-best tournament in the world, which probably is what THE PLAYERS Championship is. But what inevitably followed were more examples of what it's not.
 
``It's not a career-defining win,'' he said.
 
Fred Couples and Davis Love III often get labeled as underachievers for having so much talent and only one major championship to show for it, even though both have won THE PLAYERS twice. Ogilvy also felt that while winning THE PLAYERS was as physically challenging as winning a major, it was not as psychologically demanding.
 
``I've gotten so tired of that six, seven, eight years ago,'' Jim Furyk said. ``Is this a major? Is it not a major? My answer was simply, 'Does it matter?' It's a good, strong field. I would say it's by far the strongest field in golf, year in and year out. And it's probably the best way to market it.''
 
Carl Petterson offered the best answer when asked his definition of THE PLAYERS.
 
``It's our championship,'' he said.
 
That should be enough.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - THE PLAYERS Championship
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    Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out

    Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole, No. 9.

    Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.

    "Over the green's dead," Harms warned.

    "It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.

    Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."

    "I'm not," harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."

    "I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.

    He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from some TV cables, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.

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    Na (62) leads Hoffman by one at Colonial

    By Nick MentaMay 24, 2018, 10:38 pm

    Kevin Na leads the Fort Worth Invitational by one over Charley Hoffman following a first-round 8-under 62. Here's where things stand through 18 holes at Colonial.

    Leaderboard: Na (-8), Hoffman (-7), Emiliano Grillo (-6), Jhonattan Vegas (-6), Andrew Putnam (-6), Beau Hossler (-6)

    What it means: The veteran Na is in search of just his second PGA Tour victory in 367 events played. The 34-year-old's lone victory came at the 2011 Shriners to go along with nine runner-ups, the most recent of which was a tie for second at this year's Genesis Open. Na missed three straight cuts in April but has rallied back with a weekend stay at The Players and a T-6 at last week's Byron Nelson. Ranked 75th in the world, he is not currently qualified for the U.S. Open or the Open Championship. 

    Round of the day: Na turned in a clean card Thursday with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 first, his 10th hole of the day. He closed with a chip-in birdie at No. 9 following a friendly disagreement with his caddie (more on that below). 

    Best of the rest: Hoffman was likewise bogey-free, drawing seven circles. The four-time Tour winner and typically steady performer has yet to register a top-10 finish this season.

    Biggest disappointment: Not that a round of 1 under is tragically disappointing, but Jordan Spieth has a pretty solid history of going low at this event and contending for the title. He's seven back through Round 1.

    Shot of the day: Satoshi Kodaira recorded the second albatross in tournament history when he holed a 3-iron from 234 yards at the first.

    Honorable mention: Na got into a pretty good back-and-forth with his caddie about whether to lay up or try to clear the water from the right rough at No. 9. Na went for it, avoided hazard, and holed this chip for birdie. 

    Quote of the day: "I told you." - Na, after his chip-in

    Golf Channel's NCAA Golf Coverage Continues Mon-Wed., May 28-30 With the NCAA Men's Golf Championships

    By Golf Channel Public RelationsMay 24, 2018, 10:24 pm

    Two National Championships to be Decided Over a Three-Day Span – Individual (Mon., May 28) and Team (Wed., May 30)

     Eight of the Top-10 Ranked Programs in the Country Set to Compete; Reigning NCAA Men’s National Champions Oklahoma and Current Top-Ranked Oklahoma State Paired Together Starting Friday

     Buick and Stifel Co-Presenting Sponsors of Golf Channel’s Coverage of the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships

    ORLANDO, Fla., May 24, 2018 – Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s dramatic championship match where Arizona defeated Alabama in a playoff to claim their third women’s golf team national championship, Golf Channel returns to Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. next week for the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf National Championships. Taking place Monday-Wednesday, May 28-30, Golf Channel’s coverage will feature nearly 30 hours of live tournament and on-site wraparound news coverage, showcasing the top men’s college golf programs in the country.

    NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage: Coverage begins on Monday, May 28 to crown the individual national champion and to track the teams attempting to qualify for the eight-team match play championship. Golf Channel’s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29-30 will include all three rounds of the team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion.

    In addition, Golf Central will surround live tournament action with pre-and post-event news coverage produced on-site at Karsten Creek Golf Club, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and online via Golf Channel Digital. News and tournament coverage also will be live streamed on Golf Channel Digital. College Central, Golf Channel’s online home for college golf, will provide comprehensive editorial coverage throughout the championships.

    Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

    Monday, May   28

    Individual   National Championship

    4-8 p.m.   (Live)

    Tuesday, May   29

    Quarterfinals,   Team Match Play

    11   a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

    Tuesday,   May 29

    Semifinals,   Team Match Play

    4-8 p.m.   (Live)

    Wednesday, May   30

    Team Match   Play National Championship

    4-8 p.m.   (Live)

    Stifel and Buick Sign on as Co-Presenting Sponsors for Golf Channel’s NCAA Golf Championships Tournament Coverage: New for 2018, Stifel Financial Corp. and Buick have signed on as co-presenting sponsors for Golf Channel’s tournament coverage of the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. In addition, Stifel has extended its partnership with the Fred Haskins Commission, Golf Channel and Golfweek as presenting sponsor of the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to nation’s outstanding male collegiate golfer.Golf Channel will announce the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel following the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, on a live edition of Golf Central, Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. ET. The show will include profiles on the top candidates for the award and a live interview with the winner, who also will receive an exemption to compete in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR. The Haskins Award honors the nation’s most outstanding male Division I collegiate golfer as selected by his peers, coaches and the golf media.

    Semifinal Teams in Match Play to Receive Invitations to Compete in East Lake Cup: The East Lake Cup, taking place in late October at historic East Lake Golf Club, will feature the top-performing teams from the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Invitations for the field have been extended to Arizona, Alabama, Southern California and Stanford – semifinalists in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, and also will be extended to the semifinalists in the Men’s Championships. Modeled after the NCAA Golf Championships, the format for the East Lake Cup consists of an opening round of stroke play to crown an individual male and female champion and determine seeding for the following two days of match play competition. Golf Channel will air live coverage of the East Lake Cup Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 29-31.

    College Central – Golf Channel Digital Coverage: Golf Channel will provide comprehensive coverage via College Central,Golf Channel Digital’s home for college golf. Led by Jay Coffin, and Ryan Lavner, College Central will be the source for all things college golf, including tournament results and scores, features and columns, video highlights and breaking news.

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    Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut

    By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

    Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

    Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

    Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.


    Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open


    Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

    While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics: