Radar: The Players remains huge event even without LIV stars

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Radar: The Players remains huge event even without LIV stars

I always think The Players is the championship that whets the appetite of everyone around the world and gets people ready for the major season.

If you’re a truly great player and you want to go into the history books as one, then you want to win The Players.

Everybody who enjoys their golf knows about The Players and knows exactly what it means to the sport. It has been referred to before as a fifth major and I’m not overly keen on that, as the four majors are as many as we want, but this is one of huge events in the calendar.

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Ahead of the 2024 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, we take a look at every televised hole-in-one at the iconic 17th hole

Having said that, the powers that be will try and hide away from the fact that a number of big players are missing this week, because of what’s going on in golf. Let’s be honest, it hurts to not have Cameron Smith here, after he won the event two years ago.

It hurts to not have Jon Rahm here, who was one of the top three players in the world before he left for LIV Golf. That tour is almost a forbidden word at the moment, but we have to accept that it exists and we all need to get with the programme.

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Eamon Lynch says Jay Monahan was far from expansive in his press conference discussing some of the issues regarding the PGA tour

Bryson DeChambeau is a big draw card missing and Dustin Johnson is too. We’ve got the PGA champion Brooks Koepka not here and all of this is so disruptive to our game. We have such a great field here, but it would be better with the ‘defectors’.

I’m with what Billy Horschel said to Sky Sports’ Jamie Weir earlier this week, where he suggested that LIV Golf members should be allowed to play in this event. You can throw the majors in that too.

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Billy Horschel has urged the PGA Tour to let LIV golfers back into the The Players Championship so it can still be seen as one of the world’s best tournaments

The Masters have put Joaquin Niemann in their field, as they want the best players there to try and win the Green Jacket, so Augusta National have opened the door for what is going to happen. We know it’s going to take time, but all of the big events should have all of the best players.

We want to watch them in the majors and we want them in The Players too. It’s the same with Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup. Would you have Harry Kane not playing for England because he left Spurs for Bayern Munich? Of course not, so the same should apply here.

The Players Championship Live

Thursday 14th March 11:30am

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Who can impress at The Players?

The field here is still strong and the tournament is still full of history and interest. We had a great tournament at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, where Scottie Scheffler won at Bay Hill, but this week just has more stature.

It doesn’t necessarily need to be one of the PGA Tour’s star names to win here this week for the tournament to be a success. If a player that’s not that famous wins it, I think the PGA Tour has to look at that and think ‘we could have another superstar’.

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Speaking on the Sky Sports Golf Podcast, Andrew Coltart and David Howell say Scottie Scheffler could dominate golf if he can continue his improved recent form with his putter

Finding the positives is how you’ve got to look at things right now as we need to build more superstars, so I think they will be happy whether they get a newcomer of one of their big names lifting the trophy on Sunday.

I don’t know what we’re going to get with Rory McIlroy at the moment, as he’s driving the ball so very well but his distance control hasn’t been very good and his form has been up and down.

Driving through the gates might inspire him and kick him into gear because he’s won here before, but the same could be said about Bay Hill last week and it didn’t’ there. For me though, I fully expect Scheffler to go on and win again.

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Rory McIlroy claims it’s now a challenge for players to catch Scottie Scheffler after he gave the world No 1 some putting advice, resulting in Scheffler winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five shots

What does it take to win The Players?

They say that you don’t have to have one type of game to win around here and all sorts of types of game win at TPC Sawgrass, but I’d rather be a long hitter and be 30 yards up the fairway and closer to those tiny greens!

You’ve got to drive the ball here so very well and you have to weave your magic to tack your way around the golf course. You also have to scramble so well, even if you drive the ball straight, because the greens are so tiny and sloppy and so very fast.

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Ahead of the 50th anniversary of The Players Championship, take a look at some of the best moments from the historic tournament

You can argue that one hole has made this championship, which is the par-three 17th. It’s a genius hole and wasn’t even the magic of Pete Dye – it was his wife’s suggestion to dig a hole and flood it with water!

We’ll all be looking on with interest to see the wind swirling out there and players struggle to play that hole. Let’s be honest, we want to watch them hit it in the water and I’m sure we’ll see plenty do so this week!

Watch The Players live throughout the week on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 11.30am on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour and more with NOW.

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