THE PLAYERS Field Updates: World No. 1 Jon Rahm among first commitments
Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama add to star power at TPC Sawgrass
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MARCH 13: Jon Rahm of Spain smiles as he walks off the 17th hole green during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 13, 2021, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
With five weeks to go until the strongest field in golf reconvenes at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, championship officials announced today that World No. 1 Jon Rahm has committed alongside fellow PLAYERS Champion hopefuls Brooks Koepka and Hideki Matsuyama.
The world’s top-ranked player since last July, Jon Rahm’s 2020-21 season concluded with a runner-up finish in the FedExCup and one victory – the 2021 U.S. Open – to go along with 14 other top-10 results. Rahm’s positive momentum has continued into 2022, with the 27-year-old finishing runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and adding a T3 at the Farmers Insurance Open. The native Spaniard has been trending in the right direction at TPC Sawgrass, having earned his best result in 2021 with a T9, two years after holding the outright 54-hole lead in 2019 before finishing T12. He returns to competition at this week’s WM Phoenix Open, located down the road from where he played collegiately at Arizona State University.
Set to make his sixth career appearance at TPC Sawgrass, Brooks Koepka has proven his mettle at some of the world’s toughest tests, but Pete Dye’s masterpiece has remained unsolved. In his five previous starts at THE PLAYERS, a T11 in 2018 represents his best finish to date. Having missed the 2021 championship due to injury, Koepka still managed a respectable summer that earned him a berth into the season-ending TOUR Championship. Six starts into the new season, however, Koepka has finished no higher than T28 as he looks to regain the form that yielded five total wins during the 2018 and 2019 seasons and multiple stints atop the world golf rankings. This week’s WM Phoenix Open could provide the spark he needs, with the eight-time PGA TOUR winner set to defend his lone title from 2021.
If Hideki Matsuyama is hoping to match the success experienced over the last 12 months, a sought-after victory at THE PLAYERS would be an ideal place for the Japanese hero to start. Matsuyama’s historic triumph at the Masters was followed up by a win in his native Japan at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in October. In between, the 29-year-old represented Japan in the Olympics in Tokyo, coming one holed putt away from snatching the Bronze medal. So far in 2022, Matsuyama’s game has showed no signs of cooling, having become the first player to win twice on the season with his playoff victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii. In seven career appearances at TPC Sawgrass, Matsuyama has two top-10 finishes to his credit and would have certainly added a third – or maybe a title – if the 2020 event had been contested as scheduled. Although it is not considered an official round, Matsuyama’s record-equaling 9-under 63 on that Thursday in 2020 was evidence of his ability to be a serious contender at TPC Sawgrass.
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