The Players Championship 2020: Course and current form stats for the 'Fifth Major'

The Players Championship 2020 at TPC Sawgrass
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, designed with spectators in mind
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Andy Swales provides the words and stats ahead of Thursday's opening round at TPC Sawgrass...

"McIlroy will have to break with tradition if he is to successfully defend his title at Ponte Vedra Beach this Sunday. History is against him, as no one has yet won The Players Championship back-to-back. The best finish by a defending champion is fifth – most recently in 2001."

The world's best pros are in Jacksonville for the 47th staging of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Commonly referred to as 'The Fifth Major,' the tournament has been held here since 1982 and has always prided itself in having one of the strongest fields in world golf.

Opened in 1980, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is laid out among the north Florida swamps and is a layout which demands intense accuracy from tee-to-green.

It's putting surfaces are smaller than the Tour average, along with narrower than normal fairways.

In 2016, the course underwent a revamp with the purpose of increasing the number of occasions water came into play during a round.

At present, and depending how inaccurate a shot is, this means 14 out of 18 holes.

Water and sand are a constant threat and, according to the PGA Tour: "Short grass was added around some greens to promote creativity, while several greens were expanded to add new hole locations."

Just 12 months ago, after a dozen seasons of being staged during May, The Players Championship returned to March.

This allowed the PGA Championship to take over its slot in mid-May, having traditionally been the final major of the year in August.

Venue changes

To accommodate the new date, and take into account changing weather conditions, organisers decided to overseed greens, tees, fairways and rough with rye grass.

According to Jeff Plotts, who is the director of golf course operations at TPC Sawgrass, "overseeding the golf course will help produce the best playing surfaces possible.

"Divots and ball marks will recover quicker, and rye grass will handle foot traffic better than Bermuda grass on its own."

Story of the stats

Greens in Regulation have usually been a key statistic for likely Sawgrass contenders: In 2019, five of the leading 11 players from this particular category over 72 holes, finished inside the top 10, with another three of this group earning a top-25 finish. These include the champion Rory McIlroy.

The 2018 winner Webb Simpson enjoyed the fifth best GiR for the week, while also topping the Driving Accuracy stats.

The data was even more pronounced for 2017, when nine of the best 16 GiR figures belonged to players who were among the top-12 finishers, while only three of these 16 finished outside the top 25.

And the story goes on. Four years ago six of the leading seven GiR performers finished inside the top 20.

Defending woe

But McIlroy, the world No 1, will have to break with tradition if he is to successfully defend his title at Ponte Vedra Beach this Sunday.

History is against him, as no one has yet won The Players Championship back-to-back.

The best finish by a defending champion is fifth - most recently in 2001 - while the last winner to post a top-10 on his return was 15 years ago.

McIlroy has failed to convert some excellent opening rounds in recent weeks, and has finished fifth in each of his last three PGA Tour starts.

Course form

One particularly strange Sawgrass stat, is that you have to go back to the 2010 champion Tim Clark to find a winner who had posted a top-10 the previous year.

Although defending champ McIlroy has had three other T-10s at Sawgrass, he went into last year's event with finishes of MC-35-12 in 2018-17-16 respectively.

For not one of the last nine winners, not to register a top-10 in the year prior to their success, is unusual indeed.

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Whether this is just coincidence is hard to fathom - although it probably is.

But if this trend continues this week, it will be music to the ears of quite a few big name American pros, such as Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas.

With the exception of Thomas, none of the other five golfers have ever registered a top-10 at TPC Sawgrass.

Of this group Reed and DeChambeau are in the best current form, while Cantlay and Thomas are presently ranked within the top dozen of this season's Greens in Regulation category.

Two other players not to ignore are Spain's Jon Rahm and Aussie Adam Scott - champion over the Stadium Course as long ago as 2004.

Both tied-for-12th last year, with the incredibly consistent world No 2 Rahm just one big title away from becoming part of golf's elite.

As for the Brits, Tommy Fleetwood should be ready to challenge again after dusting himself down from his Honda Classic disappointment.

Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive

MC* - Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut

Note: List Contains Leading Reserves

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Last 10 Weeks / Last 10 Years at TPC Sawgrass

Position

  • 1–5
  • 6–15
  • 16–25
Player W10 W9 W8 W7 W6 W5 W4 W3 W2 W1
Rory McIlroy 5 5 5 3
Jon Rahm 3 17 9 2 10
Brooks Koepka 47 MC 43 17 34
Justin Thomas 6 MC 3 MC 1
Dustin Johnson 48 10 32 2 7
Patrick Cantlay 17 11 34 4
Adam Scott MC 26 1
Webb Simpson 61 1 3
Patrick Reed 15 1 51 MC 6 MC 2
Tommy Fleetwood MC 3 18 11 2
Xander Schauffele 24 14 23 16 MC 2
Justin Rose MC MC 56 MC 2
Bryson DeChambeau 4 2 5 52 8 MC
Tony Finau MC 51 2 6 14 5
Matt Kuchar 22 2 38 16 1 MC 14
Gary Woodland 8 12 40 MC 7
Louis Oosthuizen MC 51 23 5 2
Hideki Matsuyama 56 6 5 16 45 12
Shane Lowry 21 29 13 11 MC 2
Marc Leishman 2 42 43 1 28
Paul Casey 11 37 64 21 19
Bernd Wiesberger 37 MC MC 8
Matthew Fitzpatrick 9 37 30 60 45 2
Sung Jae Im 3 1 29 MC 34 36 10 21
Francesco Molinari 53 MC MC MC
Rickie Fowler 18 MC 37 MC 10 5
Abraham Ancer 56 12 43 6 2 38
Kevin Na 36 9 MC 14 MC 17 32
Henrik Stenson MC 44 37 23
Tyrrell Hatton 1 6
Danny Willett 18 42 MC 43 MC
Kevin Kisner MC 18 38 MC 4 14
Billy Horschel 36 42 9 9 68 MC
Chez Reavie 29 10 25 MC MC MC 27
Cameron Smith 22 MC MC 64 1
Victor Perez 53 38 16 2
Jazz Janewattananond MC 53 56 MC 3 4
Sergio Garcia 37 37 6 23 8
Erik van Rooyen MC 3 MC MC 37 12 22
Matt Wallace 24 MC 58 44 MC 64
Rafa Cabrera-Bello MC 16 17 MC 56 MC 12
Jason Day Wd MC 4 16
Brandt Snedeker 22 MC MC 3 12
Byeong Hun An 56 4 29 9 68 MC
Bubba Watson MC 18 MC 3 6
Christiaan Bezuidenhout 18 29 1 21 2 59 MC
Graeme McDowell 32 69 MC 1 MC 4 23
Scottie Scheffler 15 26 30 MC MC 3
Collin Morikawa 9 42 26 25 21 21 7
Jordan Spieth 58 59 9 MC 55
Sung Kang 9 71 2 MC 52 16 MC 25
Adam Hadwin 26 MC 40
Ian Poulter 32 27 17 16 MC
Brendon Todd 18 37 56 37 21 29
Phil Mickelson MC MC 3 3 MC MC
Viktor Hovland 42 MC 1 38 MC 23 MC
Andrew Putnam MC MC MC 10 57
Keegan Bradley 42 MC MC 49 16 12
Corey Conners MC MC 50 MC 45 12 19
Branden Grace 42 MC MC 9 17 1
Charles Howell MC 53 59 MC 12
JT Poston MC 35 30 37 37 MC 11
Nate Lashley MC MC Wd 3 Wd 53 19
Joaquin Niemann MC MC MC 49 57 5
Max Homa 24 5 14 6 9 48 25
Ryan Palmer 17 67 MC 21 4 17
Jason Kokrak 18 51 MC MC 21 MC
Cameron Champ MC MC 55 16 21 14
Jim Furyk MC MC MC
Joel Dahmen 5 5 14 Wd 55 12
Lucas Glover MC MC 61 50 49 MC
Lanto Griffin 36 29 37 9 MC MC 7 13
Kevin Streelman MC 47 2 MC 45 MC
CT Pan MC MC MC 63 MC
Sebastian Munoz MC 14 26 47 MC 21 MC 17
Matt Jones 47 47 MC 5 MC 73 38
Scott Piercy MC 17 18 6 61 45
JB Holmes 51 14 16 16 30
Vaughn Taylor 67 42 13 MC MC 43 12
Rory Sabbatini 47 35 59 MC MC 48 21
Nick Taylor 56 MC 1 49 MC 32
Daniel Berger 4 5 9 29 38
Ryan Moore 52 30 MC 6
Danny Lee 5 47 MC 25 Wd MC
Andrew Landry 37 MC 45 1 MC
Matthew Wolff 52 58 MC MC 21 61 11
Adam Long 24 27 MC MC 8 MC MC 23
Keith Mitchell 5 MC 32 16 MC MC 32
Russell Knox MC MC MC MC 16 21 37 32
Dylan Frittelli 18 58 MC 63 73 MC 31
Emiliano Grillo Dq MC 3 MC MC MC 21
Harold Varner 36 42 13 MC MC MC MC
Si Woo Kim MC MC 37 MC MC Wd
Carlos Ortiz MC 16 26 25 MC 48 53
Brian Harman MC 47 47 49 21 32
Pat Perez MC 47 MC 55 45
Kiradech Aphibarnrat MC 27 MC MC MC 42
Brendan Steele MC 4 MC MC 43 2
Kyle Stanley MC 3 64 MC MC MC MC
Harry Higgs 42 58 18 25 9 MC 57
Bud Cauley 32 42 51 25 MC 4 MC
Brian Stuard MC 66 23 MC MC 72 53
Tom Hoge 15 MC 60 25 5 6 12
Kevin Tway MC MC MC 37 30 MC
Aaron Wise 35 MC 62 MC MC MC
Wyndham Clark 68 11 17 18 34 MC MC
Jhonattan Vegas 27 9 MC 17 30 55
Mackenzie Hughes 2 MC MC MC MC MC
Troy Merritt 24 MC 25 MC 68 MC
Scott Brown 56 MC 67 2 MC MC MC MC
Mark Hubbard MC 11 MC 9 43 MC
Talor Gooch 13 38 10 61 36 17 63
Denny McCarthy MC MC 37 59 64 48
Luke List MC 30 25 36 MC MC
Charley Hoffman 13 MC MC 40 9 61 MC
Sepp Straka MC 27 MC MC MC 4 53
Tyler Duncan MC MC 64 MC MC 64 MC 19
Harris English 9 17 16 71 48
Cameron Tringale 27 30 64 MC 49 43
Sam Burns 36 64 23 MC 49 6 MC
Russell Henley 8 17 MC MC MC
Chesson Hadley MC MC 18 59 MC 29 MC
Adam Schenk MC 14 47 50 MC 14 MC
Brian Gay 62 MC MC 38 MC MC MC
Brice Garnett 11 20 MC 52 MC MC
Nick Watney 27 MC MC MC 29
Bronson Burgoon Wd MC MC 43
Kyoung-Hoon Lee 42 38 14 13 MC MC 21 MC
Sam Ryder MC 53 3 MC 55 MC 29 28
Ryan Armour MC MC MC MC MC MC
Peter Malnati MC MC 11 MC MC MC 12
Patrick Rodgers 24 21 35 30 MC 16 9 64 38
Michael Thompson 57 MC MC MC MC 38
Zach Johnson 32 67 MC MC 28
Jimmy Walker 24 21 MC MC 63 30 MC 45
Aaron Baddeley MC 25 40 64 MC
Jason Dufner 27 64 62 36 55 MC
Roger Sloan MC 60 MC MC MC MC MC
Chris Stroud MC MC MC MC MC MC
Matt Every MC MC MC 32 MC 74 Wd
Scott Stallings 53 MC MC 49 55
Jim Herman MC MC MC 55 MC MC 27
JJ Spaun 63
Martin Laird 6 43 55 55 MC
Patton Kizzire 68 61 MC MC MC
Retief Goosen
Maverick McNealy MC 11 27 5 15 37
Xin Jun Zhang 52 MC 14 64 25 55 MC MC
Scott Harrington 47 MC MC MC MC MC 57
Matthew NeSmith MC 38 6 11 30 17 32
Robby Shelton 56 11 52 MC 36 MC MC
Zac Blair 36 MC MC 18 21 55 63
Henrik Norlander MC MC 44 25 MC 68 9
Cameron Davis 8 27 38 36 29 9
Player `19 `18 `17 `16 `15 `14 `13 `12 `11 `10
Rory McIlroy 1 MC 35 12 8 6 8 MC MC
Jon Rahm 12 63 MC*
Brooks Koepka 56 11 16 35 MC
Justin Thomas 35 11 MC* 3 24
Dustin Johnson 5 17 12 28 69 59 Wd 57 34
Patrick Cantlay MC 23 22
Adam Scott 12 11 6 12 38 38 19 15 MC 26
Webb Simpson 16 1 16 66 MC 15 MC 69 MC
Patrick Reed 47 41 22 MC 24 MC
Tommy Fleetwood 5 7 41
Xander Schauffele MC 2
Justin Rose 8 23 65 19 MC 4 MC 51 45 MC
Bryson DeChambeau 20 37
Tony Finau 22 57 MC MC
Matt Kuchar 26 17 MC* 3 MC 17 48 1 54 13
Gary Woodland 30 MC MC* 28 MC 11 MC MC
Louis Oosthuizen 56 MC 2 28 69 MC 19 MC MC
Hideki Matsuyama 8 MC 22 7 17 23
Shane Lowry MC 46 MC 16 MC
Marc Leishman MC 63 MC 64 24 23 8 45 MC MC
Paul Casey MC 22 23 Wd Wd MC MC
Bernd Wiesberger 12 49 MC
Matthew Fitzpatrick 41 46 MC MC
Sung Jae Im MC
Francesco Molinari 56 MC 6 7 6 MC MC MC 9
Rickie Fowler 47 MC 60 MC 1 MC* MC 2 MC MC
Abraham Ancer 12
Kevin Na MC* 46 Wd MC 6 38 7 MC MC
Henrik Stenson MC 23 16 MC 17 34 5 15 MC MC
Tyrrell Hatton MC MC 41
Danny Willett MC MC Wd MC MC
Kevin Kisner 22 MC 56 MC 2
Billy Horschel 26 37 MC 28 13 26 MC
Chez Reavie MC 30 56 MC MC
Cameron Smith 56 MC MC
Victor Perez
Jazz Janewattananond
Sergio Garcia 22 70 30 54 2 3 8 56 12 47
Erik van Rooyen
Matt Wallace 30
Rafa Cabrera-Bello MC 17 4 MC
Jason Day 8 5 60 1 MC 19 MC 6 MC
Brandt Snedeker 5 MC MC MC 48 8 MC MC MC
Byeong Hun An 26 30 MC
Bubba Watson 56 57 MC 43 42 48 37 45 MC
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
Graeme McDowell 69 9 56 62 MC MC 33 26
Scottie Scheffler
Collin Morikawa
Jordan Spieth MC 41 MC MC MC 4
Sung Kang 47 MC 30 61
Adam Hadwin MC 57 30 39 MC
Ian Poulter 56 11 2 57 30 65 MC 25 57 MC
Brendon Todd MC 51
Phil Mickelson MC MC 41 MC MC MC MC 25 33 17
Viktor Hovland
Andrew Putnam MC
Keegan Bradley 16 7 60 35 MC MC MC 35 72
Corey Conners 41
Branden Grace 72 46 48 57 42 48
Charles Howell 35 17 MC 56 MC 66 MC MC MC
JT Poston 22
Nate Lashley
Joaquin Niemann
Max Homa
Ryan Palmer MC 23 MC 23 MC 59 5 MC MC MC
Jason Kokrak 47 46 MC Wd MC MC MC
Cameron Champ Wd
Jim Furyk 2 MC 35 56 2 MC 25 MC 47
Joel Dahmen 12
Lucas Glover MC MC* 6 MC MC MC 50 3
Lanto Griffin
Kevin Streelman MC MC MC* 74 MC MC 2 51 19 MC
CT Pan 72 46
Sebastian Munoz
Matt Jones MC MC 17 MC 19
Scott Piercy 56 MC MC 23 MC MC MC MC
JB Holmes MC MC 41 MC 51 MC MC 6 13
Vaughn Taylor 41 MC MC MC MC MC
Rory Sabbatini 35 30 6 38 71 MC 26 39
Nick Taylor 16 MC* MC 73
Daniel Berger 67 57 65 9 MC
Ryan Moore 20 30 53 MC MC 26 MC 46 33 47
Danny Lee MC 7 MC 35 MC
Andrew Landry 47 67
Matthew Wolff
Adam Long MC*
Keith Mitchell 47 MC*
Russell Knox 35 MC MC 19 17 34
Dylan Frittelli
Emiliano Grillo 26 37 11 MC
Harold Varner MC 7 35 57
Si Woo Kim 56 63 1 23
Carlos Ortiz MC
Brian Harman 8 MC 53 54 8 MC MC 51
Pat Perez MC 22 17 48 MC 25 MC MC
Kiradech Aphibarnrat MC 30 MC
Brendan Steele MC MC* 6 57 MC 26 MC MC MC
Kyle Stanley MC MC 4 71 33 MC
Harry Higgs
Bud Cauley 47 MC MC MC
Brian Stuard MC MC* MC MC 17 MC
Tom Hoge 30 MC*
Kevin Tway MC 46
Aaron Wise MC
Wyndham Clark Dq
Jhonattan Vegas 3 41 MC 57 42 7 MC
Mackenzie Hughes 57 16
Troy Merritt MC MC MC 72 61 68
Scott Brown MC 23 MC MC 30 62 MC
Mark Hubbard MC
Talor Gooch MC
Denny McCarthy 41
Luke List 56 MC MC
Charley Hoffman MC MC 30 MC 30 38 37 MC 26 22
Sepp Straka
Tyler Duncan MC*
Harris English MC MC MC MC MC MC 33 64
Cameron Tringale 35 16 56 MC MC 72
Sam Burns
Russell Henley MC MC 35 MC 24 17 MC
Chesson Hadley MC 11 MC 24 MC
Adam Schenk
Brian Gay 56 MC* MC MC MC 46 12 MC
Brice Garnett 35 41 MC
Nick Watney MC 37 MC MC MC 56 4 17
Bronson Burgoon MC
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
Sam Ryder MC
Ryan Armour MC MC
Peter Malnati MC MC
Patrick Rodgers MC* MC MC MC
Michael Thompson 70 MC MC MC 55 51
Zach Johnson MC MC* 48 54 13 26 19 2 12 22
Jimmy Walker 67 2 56 MC MC 6 15 35 MC 26
Aaron Baddeley MC 41 MC MC MC MC MC 6 MC
Jason Dufner MC* 5 60 49 MC 48 62 68 6 MC
Roger Sloan
Chris Stroud 46 Wd 42 MC* 33 MC 12 10
Matt Every MC MC 42 MC 26 MC
Scott Stallings MC MC 75 65 MC MC
Jim Herman 35 MC
JJ Spaun Wd MC
Martin Laird MC 57 MC MC MC 5 2 69 MC
Patton Kizzire MC* MC MC 76
Retief Goosen 12 MC 48 Wd MC 61
Maverick McNealy
Xin Jun Zhang
Scott Harrington
Matthew NeSmith
Robby Shelton
Zac Blair MC 49
Henrik Norlander
Cameron Davis

Andy Swales,

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