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For the 42 weeks leading up to THE PLAYERS, we’re recounting the story of each of the previous 42 winners
The distinct challenges THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass presents for THE PLAYERS Championship are all-conquering; every error seems to be punished tenfold. Since its inception in 1974, THE PLAYERS has been the flagship tournament on the PGA TOUR's calendar. The perks: 600 FedExCup points, equal to the four major championships, a similar amount of Official World Golf Ranking points to the majors and a five-year exemption on the PGA TOUR.
For PGA TOUR players, this is an event that is earmarked from the beginning of the season. Over the last 20 years or so, the event has grown both in stature and as a spectator experience. The Stadium Course tests every aspect of a player's game. The 17th hole, often referred to as the “Island Green,” is the course’s signature hole, and one of the most iconic and recognizable holes in the world.
It brings out the best of the best, but also presents a course which can crucify you in a heartbeat (see Bob Tway’s third-round 12 on No. 17 in 2005). Patience really is a virtue here.
“It’s one of the toughest courses we play all year,” 2015 champion Rickie Fowler said. “Probably the toughest field that we play all year. So, I mean, whoever is winning is taking care of business, beating the best players at the time and conquering one of the toughest courses that we play.”
From it's inauguration in 1974, THE PLAYERS has seen it all. From Greg Norman’s wizardry in 1994, when he shot a course-record 264, to Steve Lowery finding dry land on the 17th in 1998, only for a seagull to take it upon himself to dunk it into the lake. The history of this prestigious event is illustrious.
For the 42 weeks leading up to THE PLAYERS, we will recount the story of each of the previous 42 winners. Beginning with Jack Nicklaus’ maiden victory at the Atlanta Country Club right up to Jason Day's triumph in 2016.
Hal Sutton, 2000
When history casts its eye upon the final PLAYERS Championship of the 20th century, Hal Sutton’s victory will tell a tale of resurgence - how Sutton rose once more to golfing prominence, 17 years after he claimed his first PLAYERS victory. It may also be remembered more prominently for the footnote of the story – the runner up being none other than Tiger Woods, who entered the tournament having won 10 of his last 16 tournaments.
The only man to break 70 in 30 mile-per-hour winds on Thursday, Hal Sutton showed he meant business. A second round 69 followed, giving him a one-stroke advantage over Tom Lehman and Omar Uresti. By the end of the next day, birdie-laden rounds for both Sutton (69) and Woods (66) would leave the pairing atop the leaderboard, Woods just one stroke back, both one round from victory.
Woods opened with an effortless birdie on the 1st to pull even. Sutton, however, remained unwaivered. Bogeys by Woods on the 3rd and 4th holes, along with a huge 25-foot birdie on 11 saw Sutton stretch his lead to three before the heavens opened and play delayed until Monday morning.
Despite the break in play, he picked up where he left off – making one par at a time. Though Woods bounced back from an opening bogey with a birdie on 13 before an eagle at the par-5 16th, Sutton kept his cool, making par on the Island Green to reach No. 18 one stroke ahead. There Sutton uttered his now infamous entreaty of "Be the right club today!" hitting aperfect approach six-iron from 179 yards to within eight feet wrap-up a one-stroke victory.
THE PLAYERS Championship: May 9-14, 2017
THE PLAYERS Championship is the PGA TOUR’s most anticipated tournament and coveted title. Held at TPC Sawgrass, the Stadium Course give fans an unprecedented experience with on-site access you simply will not get anywhere else.
Watch the world’s best players battle it out for one of the year's biggest titles. By choosing THE PLAYERS Club, you’ll have access to the practice and tournament rounds of your choosing on individual days or for the full week. You’ll also be granted private access to the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse, as well as private suites overlooking the 18th green and signature 17th tee!
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