Sarah Stirk describes why The Players Championship is so special
By Sarah Stirk at TPC Sawgrass
Last Updated: 14/05/18 6:16am
The Players Championship boasts a world-class field and produces high drama every year, and Sky Sports presenter Sarah Stirk has been explaining what makes the Sawgrass event stand out ...
My favourite thing about The Players Championship is that the whole week as a major feel to it. TPC Sawgrass is a great course, and every year the field is one of the strongest in the world - including the majors.
The tournament has the stature, the prestige and there's a really nice vibe around the course. The players love it, they are treated very well and many of them regard it as their favourite week of the season.
It is similar in many ways to the Masters, but without many of the restrictions we see at Augusta National. There's a more relaxed feeling among the players and fans at Sawgrass, but - like the Masters - the organisation is world class.
The golf course adds to the occasion, and it's always nice to see so many variations of player lifting that crystal trophy. It's not a course that can be overpowered by the big hitters, and the leaderboard is a real mixture year in, year out.
The power players can't take out the driver on every par four and par five, and that's a big appeal for me. The Stadium Course does not suit any particular kind of player, and it's a unique aspect.
It's a great layout throughout, but obviously the focus of attention tends to be on the last three holes which provide so much drama every season.
The players struggle to stay comfortable down the stretch, particularly on the 17th, and it makes for fascinating viewing. We'll be lining up players for interviews when they've got a good round going, but that can all change in an instant.
With all that water in play, it is a great spectacle for the fans at Sawgrass and the viewers around the world, and it's little wonder why it tends to be one of the most-watched events on the calendar.
But it's not just 16, 17 and 18 where it's easy to run up a big number. You can say that about pretty much every hole but, at the same time, there are birdie and eagle chances from start to finish. It's all about finding the right spot on the fairways and greens and, if you don't, danger lurks!
The 17th is one of the most famous holes in the world, but it has come in for criticism in some circles. Some say a hole of that nature should be earlier in the round, but having it as the penultimate hole creates total theatre.
Rory McIlroy said that, if you put grass all around the green, it would be the easiest par-three in professional golf. In the first round this week, it played the toughest!
I love the flow of the finishing holes. You have the risk-reward nature of the long 16th, the drama of the 17th, and the 18th is just a tremendous finishing hole.
It's a big challenge for the field, but they embrace that challenge, and Webb Simpson embraced it better than anybody in the world over the last four days.