The Players Championship 2017 Preview: History and Past Winners

by Greg Landries
on May 8, 2017

The biggest tournament outside of the majors will begin on May 11-15 at TPC Sawgrass. The PLAYERS is a highly touted tourney without the title of a “major” and is one of the most important tournaments of the year. The major factor being that the tournament is the richest of the year with a huge purse and payout to the winner. It continues to be the richest tournament of the year and one of the best field of golfers from around the world. It has been a highlight on tour since the beginning at Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Outside of the four golf majors, The PLAYERS Championship is considered the most important tournament on tour. Which leads to a large showing of the best players in the world and a really great week of golf. The tournament has been held at TPC Sawgrass for the past 25 years now and it continues to be a crowd favorite.

The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is a unique course that puts the players and fans into consideration. It is owned by the PGA tour and first hosting the PLAYERS in 1982. After a history of the tournament moving around from course to course, Sawgrass is now the permanent home of the event. The course is designed for the ultimate fan experience that many will say is the best around with a sort stadium setting.

Sawgrass is certainly a one of a kind set up that has allowed some historic and memorable moments throughout the years. It has a great history of late round heroics and memorable moments that will forever be remembered in golf history.

The PLAYERS History

The PLAYERS Championship has been held annually in May as part of the PGA tour schedule. It initially began play in 1974 at the Atlanta Country Club in Marietta, Georgia. A year later, the tournament moved to the Colonial Country club in Texas. After only a year at Colonial they would move it to Inverrary Country Club (Ft. Lauderdale) in 1976.

Starting in 1977, it would move to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. It would find its home at Sawgrass Country Club’s Oceanside Course and in 1982 it finally found its way to TPC Sawgrass, the Stadium Course.

The PLAYERS Championship Past Winners

Many consider this tournament as the fifth major of the year. It typically attracts the top players in the Official World Golf Ranking which has allowed for some memorable endings. The winner will receive a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, as well as 3-year exemptions into the US and British Open.

There is only one true negative to the Players Championship, that it is not considered an official event on the European Tour unlike the four Majors. That is why many of the Champions are PGA Tour players and that trend should continue due to the strong showing again this year.

With the PLAYERS getting close, we will look at the past few years of the tournament winners. Will one of these past champions win it again this year? There are definitely some guys on this list that could take the trophy and money home come Sunday afternoon. We all know one will not be contending, the 2013 Champion Tiger Woods. So who else has won?

2016 PLAYERS Championship winner

The year of 2016 was Jason Day’s coming out party and it continued at the PLAYERS. He went onto his third win of the season last May. This was part of a huge year last season for Day by winning the PGA Championship, Bay Hill, a WGC title and the PLAYERS he was the undisputed best golfer in the world.

Day looks to snap out of his recent slump on tour after a WD due to an emotional couple of weeks with his mother, he has yet to snap out of it. Will he be back-to-back champion? We will have to wait and see next week.

2015 Champion

The 2015 PLAYERS was without some of the bigger names like Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, also missing was Tiger but that is almost a guarantee these days.

These three were missing, but the field was still strong and beating everyone out was Rickie Fowler. This continues to be Fowlers signature victory, as he is yet to win a major title in his career. He went on to beat Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

2014 Champion

Since the PLAYERS is a more US oriented tournament with Europe having their own PLAYERS tournament it is typically not won by guys from out of the country but this year it would be. Martin Kaymer would win by paring the last two holes and taking the title at Ponte Vedra Beach.

2013 Champion

Tiger Woods would pick up the victory this year. He was tied for the lead with only a few holes left to play and was able to hang on. Woods did not make this an easy win by putting a ball into the water on the 14th hole resulting in a double bogey but he was able to recover. He would make a key birdie on the 16th hole and finished for with a 70 (2-under-par) on the day. This was Woods’ fourth victory on tour in 2013 and may be the last year we will see Tiger at the top of his game.

2012 Champion

In 2012 fan favorite Matt Kuchar, better known as “Kooch” would win the the 2012 PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. He would go into the par 17th with a three shot lead end up playing it to a bogey but played the last hole out to save par and secure the victory.

2011 Champion

In 2011, it would take another playoff to decide the winner with KJ Choi and David Toms both finished the weekend at -13. Choi would beat Toms after one playoff hole and take the title. It was an extremely close tournament with a number of players right at the heels of these two.

2010 Champion

We are not too sure if this was the curse of Lee Westwood or what in 2010. Westwood had all but locked up the title until a surprise run from South Africa’s Tim Clark. The Englishmen had just come in 2nd at the Masters and looked like he was ready to win a big tournament but it would be Clark that wins. He had never won on tour and was not expected to do so on this weekend. Instead, Clark would shoot a final round 67 to be beat out Robert Allenby.

2009 Champion

The always consistent Henrik Stenson would go on to with The Players Championship in 2009, his victory here would be his 10th professional career win and this being the biggest yet. Stenson would storm to the top of the leaderboard to steal the victory away from longtime leader Alex Cejka.

2008 Champion

Up until the 2017 Masters, this was Sergio Garcia’s biggest victory on tour. He went into a playoff hole against Paul Goydos to tap in for par on the infamous par-3 17th hole. The runner up from a year ago would finally take the title as the 35th PLAYERS Champion.

2007 Champion

Phil Mickelson won a great tournament as he beat Sergio Garcia by two strokes to win the title.

Many of these past champions will be playing this week and should be favorites to win again this year but there are also a ton of other players that could win this prestigious tournament on May 14, 20017.

Check back next week, as we will look to continue our coverage on the PLAYERS Championship the days leading up to it. We will look at the current odds, possible sleepers and give a preview of this year’s tournament.

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