Sawgrass stat pack

The game’s biggest stars have returned to Florida for one of the most important titles in professional golf.

The PGA Tour’s flagship event – the Players Championship – was first contested in 1974 and is universally acclaimed as ‘the fifth Major.’

TPC Sawgrass, with its famed island green at the par-three 17th, first hosted the event 30 years ago.

A Pete Dye design, known as the Stadium Course, it was given a huge facelift ahead of the 2006 event when the tournament’s date was switched from March to May.

Well-watered and well-bunkered, the venue rarely disappoints as a spectacle.

No previous champion, in the tournament’s 38-year history, has successfully defended their title, with five of the most recent six winners being non-American.

So who’s in the frame this week?

Ben Crane: After making a strong start to the season, the American’s form took a dip during March and April but he played pretty solidly last week in Charlotte where he finished just outside the top-20. Three top-six finishes from his last four visits to Ponte Vedra Beach.

Sergio Garcia: Despite telling reporters at Augusta that he is unhappy with the state of his game at present, the 32-year-old Spaniard has an excellent record in the ‘fifth major’. Winner in 2008, plus two other top-four finishes.

Hunter Mahan: Disappointing in South Carolina last week but still in the form of his life following a brace of victories during the early months of 2012. He tied for 6th in the Players Championship last year.

Rory McIlory: Don’t look too much into his brace of missed cuts at Sawgrass as his third appearance in this event should provide better memories for the 23-year-old from¬†Northern Ireland. Despite losing a play-off last week at Quail Hollow, the result re-installs him as world No 1.

Nick Watney: Fourth last year at Sawgrass and eighth last week in Charlotte.

Lee Westwood: Tied fourth on his most recent visit to Sawgrass two years ago when he was well placed to win through 54 holes. He finished strongly at Quail Hollow on Sunday moving 25 places up the leaderboard and into a tie for fifth.

SELECTED PLAYERS with GOOD to REASONABLE FORM at TPC SAWGRASS

Last Eight Years

Player: ’04 / ’05 / ’06 / ’07 / ’08 / ’09 / ’10 / ’11

Robert Allenby: 33 / MC / 38 / MC / 42 / 14 / 2 / 50
Aaron Baddeley: MC / 78 / MC / 37 / 32 / 9 / MC / 6
KJ Choi: 42 / MC / 16 / 23 / MC / MC* / 34 / Won
Stewart Cink: 22 / 32 / MC / 3 / 21 / MC* / MC / 19
Tim Clark: MC / MC / MC / 68 / MC / 9 / Won / Wd
Ben Crane: 66 / – / 36 / – / 6 / 5 / 4 / 45
Brian Davis: MC / – / 20 / MC / MC / 5 / MC / 26
Luke Donald: MC / 2 / MC / 16 / 27 / 37 / 26 / 4
Ernie Els: 26 / 17 / 8 / 37 / 6 / 45 / MC / MC
Jim Furyk: – / MC / 3 / 28 / 27 / 5 / 47 / MC
Sergio Garcia: 53 / 32 / 14 / 2 / Won / 22 / 47 / 12
Retief Goosen: MC / 12 / 2 / 28 / 51 / 22 / – / 61
JB Holmes: – / – / 38 / 16 / 10 / MC / 13 / 6
Fredrik Jacobson: MC / MC / 22 / MC / 32 / 49 / 10 / 64
Zach Johnson: – / 8 / 58 / 16 / MC / 32 / 22 / 12
Matt Kuchar: 16 / – / – / – / MC / 14 / 13 / 54
Davis Love: 33 / 8 / MC / 75 / 54 / MC / 4 / 12
Hunter Mahan: – / 40 / – / MC / Wd / MC* / 17 / 6
Phil Mickelson: 3 / 40 / 14 / Won / 21 / 55 / 17 / 33
Sean O’Hair: – / – / 58 / 11 / MC / MC / 22 / 19
Ian Poulter: 33 / MC / 27 / 28 / 21 / 2 / MC / 57
Adam Scott: Won / 8 / 53 / 6 / 54 / MC / 26 / MC
Vijay Singh: 13 / 12 / 8 / 44 / MC / 9 / MC / MC
Henrik Stenson: – / – / 3 / 23 / 10 / Won / MC / MC
Chris Stroud: – / – / – / – / – / – / 10 / 12
David Toms: MC / 68 / MC / 64 / 32 / 9 / MC / 2
Nick Watney: – / – / – / MC / 63 / MC / 17 / 4
Lee Westwood: – / 22 / 38 / – / MC / – / 4 / –
Tiger Woods: 16 / 53 / 22 / 37 / – / 8 / Wd / Wd

Note: MC* – Missed additional 54-hole cut

SELECTED PLAYERS with POOR to MEDIOCRE FORM at TPC SAWGRASS

Last Eight Years

(No Top-30 finishes from three or more starts since 2004)

Player: ’04 / ’05 / ’06 / ’07 / ’08 / ’09 / ’10 / ’11

Matt Bettencourt: – / – / – / – / – / MC / MC / MC
Michael Bradley: – / – / – / – / – / MC / MC / MC
Ken Duke: – / – / – / 37 / 54 / MC / – / –
Harrison Frazar: MC / MC / 63 / 52 / – / – / MC / –
Robert Garrigus: – / – / – / MC / MC / – / – / 73
Bill Haas: – / – / – / 72 / MC / MC / 39 / MC
JJ Henry: MC / MC / 45 / MC / 42 / MC / 58 / MC
Charles Howell: MC / MC / 53 / 79 / MC / MC / MC / MC
Ryuji Imada: – / – / MC / 68 / MC / 45 / 39 / MC
Trevor Immelman: Wd / – / – / MC / – / MC / MC / 33
Brandt Jobe: 74 / – / MC / – / – / – / – / MC
Martin Laird: – / – / – / – / – / MC* / MC / 69
Jeff Maggert: 33 / 46 / 45 / MC / Wd / – / – / –
Billy Mayfair: 58 / – / MC / MC / 72 / 32 / – / –
George McNeill: – / – / – / – / MC / MC / 58 / –
Joe Ogilvie: – / 32 / MC / MC / MC / MC / – / –
Ryan Palmer: – / MC / MC / 75 / – / MC / MC / MC
Webb Simpson: – / – / – / – / – / MC / MC / 69
DJ Trahan: – / – / MC / MC / 51 / MC / MC / MC
Johnson Wagner: – / – / – / – / 54 / 60 / – / MC
Charlie Wi: – / – / – / – / 63 / MC / MC / 41
Mark Wilson: – / – / – / MC / 42 / 55 / MC / MC
Yong-Eun Yang: – / – / – / – / – / MC / 34 / MC

Top-10 Finishers from 2011 (Not Already Listed)

Jason Day (T-6th)
Jason Dufner (T-6th)
Alvaro Quiros (T-6th)

LEADING 20 STROKE AVERAGES at TPC SAWGRASS

(Last Five Years – 2007/11)

Average (Rounds)

70.80: Sergio Garcia (20)
70.81: Ben Crane (16)
71.10: Jason Dufner (10)
71.18: Tiger Woods (11)
71.20: Phil Mickelson (20)
71.22: JB Holmes (18)
71.35: Luke Donald (20)
71.38: Sean O’Hair (16)
71.42: Martin Kaymer (12)
71.46: Hunter Mahan (13)
71.53: Stewart Cink (17)
71.55: Graeme McDowell (11)
71.56: David Toms (18)
71.61: Zach Johnson (18)
71.72: Ian Poulter (18)
71.78: Robert Allenby (18)
71.81: Henrik Stenson (16)
71.86: Matt Kuchar (14)
71.86: Jeff Overton (14)
71.88: KJ Choi (17)

(Min. No. of Rounds = 10)

MOST TOP-10 Finishes in FLORIDA

(Since Start of 2008)

Total

8: Luke Donald
8: Tiger Woods
6: Ernie Els
6: Jim Furyk
6: Justin Rose
5: Nick Watney
4: Robert Allenby
4: Ben Crane
4: Brian Davis
4: Retief Goosen
4: Fredrik Jacobson
4: Matt Kuchar
4: Graeme McDowell
4: Kevin Na
4: Nick O’Hern
4: Vijay Singh
4: Steve Stricker
4: Chris Stroud
4: Bo Van Pelt

LOWEST ROUNDS at TPC SAWGRASS since start of 2000

64: Phil Mickelson (2002)
64: Davis Love (2003)
64: Craig Parry (2004)
64: Steve Jones (2005)
64: Jeff Quinney (2007)
64: Nick Watney (2011)
65: 22 times

Note: The lowest rounds ever recorded at TPC Sawgrass are 63s – by Fred Couples (1992) & Greg Norman (1994)

TPC Sawgrass: Par 72; 7,215 yards

Winning Totals (Last Three Years):

2011 – 275 (KJ Choi)
2010 – 272 (Tim Clark)
2009 – 276 (Henrik Stenson)