Im away from work with my wife and three kids visiting family during Spring Break. So here Ive sat, filling out NCAA brackets, playing catch with and throwing batting practice to my son and shopping with my girls. And while my mind is refreshingly free of this weeks golf scene, I cant help but think about what will soon consume me.
Next week is The Players Championship. And you know darn well what that means! Those ridiculous conversations about it becoming or already achieving status as golfs 5th major are ready and waiting. Im not buying it!
No way! Not anymore! Dont come to me with it. Dont even suggest it. Because Im armed and ready (see above about a week off work to think.)
OK, so youre the smart one that buys into this nonsense, huh? Then answer these questions..
1. Whos the one to officially dub The Players Championship a major?
2. Will players now skip the Bay Hill Invitational to prepare for The Players Championship?
3. Will players also skip the BellSouth Classic, which comes the next week, and also the week before another major known as The Masters?
4. Will Golf Digest and Golf Magazine, among others, be forced to give us a Players Championship preview bonus section as they do for issues preceding other major championships?
5. Will longtime greats be putting the public on notice that this will be my last Players Championship?
And, if youve got great responses to questions like those above, then youd better have quick return fire for the following..
1. Steve Elkington, Fred Couples and Davis Love III now have three majors apiece.
2. Hal Sutton also has three majors. Even more impressive is that well always remember that great major finish where he stared down Tiger Woods, held him off and held up the trophy. Wait, well say 100 years from now, somebody actually handed it to Woods in a major?
3. Quick! See how many professional majors Jack now has (+3 = 21). It cant be very settling to Tiger, who not only has further to climb to catch the Bear.
4. Speaking of Grand Slam. I guess baseball had better add another base to its playing field so 5 can cross the plate in the event some guy batting .232 and making $3 million a year hits one over the fence.
5. Jodie Mudd is given greater status as an underachiever who didnt do much after winning that major.
6. Craig Perks will be heard saying, Man, if I could just win the U.S. Open so I could validate my Players Championship. That second major shouldnt come so tough!
7. Scott Gump ('99) , Bob Eastwood ('83) and Mike McCullough ('77) gather each year in March to talk about the major that got away.
Are you on board with me now? None of this seems right. The records wouldnt feel the same. And the conversation seems awkward. Heck, I hate to bring this up.. But Phil Mickelson still doesnt get the monkey off his back ' and if Mickelson of all people cant get a break in this argument then I cant think of anything else to put this conversation to rest.
I must be truthful and say that those in the field at the TPC at Sawgrass next week will definitely be asked the dreaded question. We reporters just cant seem to let it die. Or at least some of us cant.
Heres my feeling. Appreciate the event for what it is ' a huge tournament with a huge purse, that draws huge crowds along with huge interest and is played on a course with one seemingly little hole that provides huge drama. This event is bigger than the WGC events and the Tour Championship for that matter. Theres more at stake in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. each year than at any other event on the schedule that doesnt call itself The Masters, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship or the PGA Championship. And with the history thats been made, you simply cant deny its tremendous impact on those whove won it as the years progress.
Know this ' On Monday, Im headed north on 1-95 with the greatest sense of excitement so far this year. Im truly psyched up for The Players Championship, just as I am each year. You know why? Because, it just FEELS like a major championship. And thats plenty good enough for me.
See you Tuesday night Live From The Players Championship!