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Week 14 of the PGA: The Players Championship! Showdown at Sawgrass

March 19, 2006

In week 14 of the PGA tOur, the Stadium course at the TPC at Sawgrass will host the 2006 Players Championship. The $8.0 Million dollar purse is the largest of the season thus bringing together a host of stars. For some golfers, this Tournament will be treated as a major since a win will give them a 5-year exemption on tOur.

About the course:

The standard ‘tips’ range out at 6,954 yards but the Tournament will play at a narrow 7,093. This 1981 Pete Dye designed course plays tough for all golfers with many pot bunkers and moguls all over. Water comes into play on every hole on this course. To make matters worse, the Bermuda rough is substantially thick. The Stadium course also has tall, obstructing palm trees throughout. The greens are fast but predominantly large at Sawgrass with an estimate of 4,800 square ft. footage for all. This is due to the fact that the course is facilitated only one mile to the Atlantic Ocean where the winds become a major issue. It’s only fair to give players some sort of chance to shoot low.

Difficult holes are the par 4 – 7th and closing holes. With the 7th hole, it plays an extremely narrow 440 yards with water on both sides. The closing holes can very much ruin a golfers round. The 18th hole happens to play as the hardest hole on the course. It measures 450 yards and is a dogleg left with a huge lake on that side. Hitting a big, straight drive is a must but it will still leave you with a complicated approach shot. The signature 17th, known as the “Island Hole”, will always be the fan favorite. Although only being a short 132 yard punch shot, many players will find water one way or another during this Tournament. It is known that course staff rescues approximately 120,000 to 150,000 golf balls from the lake on this hole each year.

course Record: Fred Couples, Greg Norman (63)

Other notes: Ben Crenshaw states about the course, “It’s Star Wars of Golf designed by Darth Vader”…JC Snead called the course, “90 percent horse manure and 10 percent luck.”

This course is designed for “target golf”. The longest hitters won’t necessarily come out on top but the most accurate will. To win here, it’s all about ball placement. Here are some players to look for during the Players Championship.

Who Plays Well at Sawgrass: (Defending Champ: Fred Funk)

Adam Scott: Won in 2004 and finished with a T-8 in 2005. Scott is one of only 6 players to win at Sawgrass and finish with a top 10 finish. The others were Hal Sutton, Fred Couples, Tom Kite, Mark McCumber, and Jack Nicklaus.

Phil Mickelson: He plays pretty well at the Players Championship. ‘Lefty’ has made 8 out 12 cuts here and has had 2 top-10 finishes but he has no wins here. He’s due for a really good outing.

Jay Haas: Now 52 years old, he might be too old to compete against the younger stars, Haas has performed great over the last couple years. He had a T-24 finish last year and a T-6 finish in 2004. His 29th start at Sawgrass will be the most by any player at the Players Championship.

Other top Hopefuls: Retief Goosen, Tiger Woods (71.39 scoring average at PC)

Last Week’s Top Finishers who will be at Sawgrass:

Vijay Singh: Also, another great golfer at the PC. Vijay has had two top-10 finishes and 11 of 13 cuts made. A tie for 13th finish last year but no wins here. He finished 7th last week at Bay Hill.

Greg Owen: A second place finish last weekend, Owen has also finished in the top 20 in the last 3 Tournaments.

Rod Pampling: the 38 year-old Aussie won at Bay Hill over Greg Owen. He’s looking for back-to-back wins.

Also: Fred Funk – a nice T-10 finish at Bay Hill, looks to defend title, Robert Allenby

Some Stats to go by: Driving Accuracy Pct. Leaders: (1) Fred Funk, (2) Jim Furyk, (3) Scott Verplank GIR Pct. Leaders: (1) Tiger Woods, (2) Vijay Singh, (3) Kenny Perry

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