Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the 18th tee during the first round of the Players Championship golf tournament Thursday, March 9, 2023, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Players Championship Begins Thursday

The 50th annual Players Championship tees off Thursday as the best players on the PGA Tour compete in Ponte Vedra, Florida.

Players to Watch

As 144 of the best PGA Tour players compete for $25 million, there are a lot of players to keep an eye on. To start, Rory Mcllroy is coming off a big weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he finished in second place. He ended the tournament just one stroke behind Kurt Kitayama, the champion. Mcllroy won the Players in 2019 in his tenth appearance in the tournament. Although he missed the cut in 2021, he finished T-33rd in last year’s Players Championship.

Next, Scottie Scheffler is a favorite in this weekend’s tournament. Finishing fourth in last weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, he has become a threat entering the weekend. He finished behind Mcllroy, and tied with Jordan Spieth. This will be Scheffler’s third appearance at TPC Sawgrass. Last year, he finished T-55th but went on to win his next two starts.

Scheffler has the chance to take back his No. 1 spot with a win this weekend. 28-year-old, Jon Rahm, has made all five cuts in the TPC. He placed T-12th in 2019 and T-21st in 2021.  After a disappointing finish in the Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend, he is definitely a player to watch.

Despite the talent in this year’s tournament, some key players are missing the competition because of injuries and the LIV Golf Series. Previous winners, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Cameron Smith will all be absent from the tournament. As well as stars Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.

Former Gator

Former University of Florida player Tyson Alexander will compete in his first-ever appearance at the Players Championship this weekend. Alexander is coming into the tournament with what some would consider a home field advantage as he has lived in Jacksonville Beach for the past five years and is very familiar with the area. He has been working for the last five years to get his PGA Tour card.

According to an article from Garry Smits, Alexander said, being on the PGA Tour is every bit the experience he’s dreamed of his whole life. Alexander is among the 32 other players competing in their first ever Players Championship.

2022 Players Championship

Last year, Cameron Smith won the 2022 Players Championship. With a delayed finish because of weather, Smith finished the tournament on Monday as he shot 6 under 66. The biggest surprise for the 2023 Players is that Smith will not be playing in the tournament. He is the first player to miss the tournament because of non-injuries. His privileges were taken away after his appearance in the LIV Golf Series, which resulted in him being banned from the tournament.

First Round Updates

The first round of the tournament started for some players at 6:50 a.m. ET this morning. As this was written, Min Woo Lee, Collin Morikawa and Chad Ramey were tied for first shooting -5. Hayden Buckley started off his day with a legendary hole in one. This becomes only the 11th hole in one on the Island Green, and the 40th in tournament history.

 

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