THE PLAYERS Field Updates: Thomas, Cantlay, Hovland commit
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 14: Justin Thomas of the United States walks on the 17th green during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 14, 2021 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
With two weeks to go until the strongest field in golf reconvenes at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay and Viktor Hovland are the latest to add their names to the championship commitment list.
The defending champion returns to TPC Sawgrass following his historic seven-stroke comeback after 36 holes to win his first PLAYERS title. His weekend rounds of 64-68 tied the tournament record for closing 36-hole score (132) as he edged out England’s Lee Westwood by one shot for a 14th career PGA TOUR title. Since his win at THE PLAYERS, Thomas has yet to return to the winner’s circle despite advancing to the season-ending TOUR Championship and finishing fourth in the FedExCup. Through six starts this season, Thomas has recorded four top-10s, including a solo sixth on Sunday at The Genesis Invitational.
It was a summer to remember for Patrick Cantlay, who closed the 2020-21 PGA TOUR season in style with a dramatic victory in the second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs at the BMW Championship and followed it up by claiming the TOUR Championship to become the FedExCup champion. Cantlay’s season concluded with four total victories, and the native Californian was voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year by his peers. With four appearances at THE PLAYERS under his belt, Cantlay has yet to find his stride at TPC Sawgrass, having missed his previous two cuts and recording a T22 in 2017 for his best finish. The 29-year-old is picking up where he left off last season, having already notched four top-10s in five starts in 2021-22.
Arguably one of the brightest rising stars in the game, Viktor Hovland has ascended to as high as No. 3 in the world following his third career PGA TOUR title at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba in November to go along with a win overseas on the DP World Tour in early 2022. The native Norwegian missed the cut in his first official start at THE PLAYERS in 2021 but recorded seven top-5s in what was his second full season on the PGA TOUR. Hovland nabbed his first top-10 on TOUR of the calendar year on Sunday at The Genesis Invitational, where he overcame an opening-round 71 to finish T4.