Scottie Scheffler with his caddy Ted Scott and the trophy after winning The Players Championship on March 17, 2024, at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Spurlock for Icon via Getty Images)

Bill Sangster

The 50th Anniversary of The Players Championship got underway this week at the world- renowned TPC Sawgrass Golf Course at Ponte Verda Beach, Florida. This was the third of four tournaments this month here in the Sunshine State. It follows last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, won by Scottie Scheffler at 15-under who just happens to be this year’s Players Championship defending champion.

The Players Championship, often referred to as “The Players”, has garnered the nickname “The 5th Major” by many fans because of its prestige, difficulty and star-studded field. It continues to showcase a field that consist of 144 players who have reached one of a number of criteria established by the PGA to ensure that the field continues to have the best players in the world each year.

Although this tournament has always been open to all of the best qualified players in the world, it no longer recognizes or extends invitations to all eligible players. The PGA has adopted a rule that reads as follows: “Any player who has participated in an unauthorized tournament is ineligible to compete in any event sanctioned by the PGA Tour for a period of one year.”

This rule now prevents several eligible LIV players from claiming their spot in the 2024 Players Championship. Looks like there might be another asterisk (*) involved here someplace.

Each of the top 35 finishers at The Players Championship will collect six-figure sums with those inside the top 13 cashing more than $500,000 and those inside the top five clearing $1 million.In addition, the winner gets a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a three-year exemption to the U.S. Open and Open Championship, as well as a three-year exemption to the Masters.

The Players was first played in 1974 at the Atlanta Country Club as the Tournament Players Championship. The tournament moved to Florida in 1976. In 1982 it was moved to its current home at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course.  

Following the 2006 event, the course underwent a major renovation, which received very positive reviews from the players in 2007. Included in the renovation was a new 77,000-square-foot Mediterranean Revival-style clubhouse. 

In August 2017, it was announced that The Players would return to March beginning in 2019, due to a realignment of the golf season that moves the PGA Championship from August to May. 

The 2020 Players Championship was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Only five players have won multiple times at TPC Sawgrass: Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Steve Elkington, and Hal Sutton, all major champions. The course’s revengeful nature is evident in the fact that these two-time winners had to wait an average of 11.6 years between victories, with no one winning more than twice on the Stadium Course.

In the history of the Players Championship, there has never been a repeat winner. This seems to be an anomaly that has defied some of the best golfers in the world from successfully defending their title here at Sawgrass. Let’s see if Scottie Scheffler can “reverse the curse.”

From the initial idea by former PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane R. Beman, THE PLAYERS Stadium Course was built in 1980 to be the permanent home of THE PLAYERS Championship. 

As the first true Stadium Course, it was designed by renowned golf course architect Pete Dye with the spectator in mind. It features large mounds for unobstructed views and holes running parallel to each other, creating hubs of activity with panoramic viewing designed to improve the overall on-site fan experience.

TPC Sawgrass isn’t an overly long course, coming in at just 7,275 yards as a par 72. It does require players to be accurate off the tee, however, requiring them to be on the right side of the fairway to set up easier approaches into the greens. 

The 17th hole is considered to be the toughest hole on the PGA Tour. It’s surrounded by water on a small island, with only a narrow walkway connecting it to the rest of the course. The hole was the brainchild of Pete Dye’s wife, Alice. 

Reigning Olympic Champion Xander Schauffele fired a bogey free 7-under to share the first-round lead. He managed to find nine of 14 fairways in his first bogey-free round of 15 at the Players. “The bogeys, or the scares of a bogey, come when you miss the fairways,” Schauffele said. “The rough is pretty thick. Shockingly thick in some cases. You’ve just got to keep it on the short grass.” 

 Wyndham Clark 7-under has managed to keep his season on an upward trajectory placing himself at the top of the leaderboard with another strong round today. His round included 7 birdies, 1 eagle and 1 bogey. “I was really patient out there.” Clark said. “I don’t feel like I did anything spectacular, I didn’t make too many bogeys and didn’t have too many tough putts to make for par, so it was a pretty easy round.”

On the 72nd hole Wyndham Clarks 17-foot putt that would have enforced a play-off with Scottie Scheffler seemed destined to drop and Clark had his arm cocked, ready to produce the fistpump., but in the final revolutions the ball caught the lip and enacted the cruel 360 back towards the stricken American.

 A confident and free-swinging Rory McIlroy 7-under, matched a course record with 10 birdies to share the early lead. He definitely had the most intriguing round of the three leaders when his tee shots on the 7th and 18th holes both found the water. He managed to escape with a bogey on the 18th but ended up with a double bogey on the 7th.

 Without video available on both shots, two lengthy discussions took place between the threesome to agree on a drop point. “I was pretty sure that my ball crossed where I was sort of dropping it.” McIlroy said. “it’s so hard, right, because there was no TV evidence. If anything, I was being conservative with it. I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to protect ourselves and the field as well.”

 The trio held a one-stroke lead on Nick Taylor -6 and Matt Fitzpatrick -6, while reigning Player’s champion Scottie Scheffler -5 is lurking two shots back. 

Round 1: Top 5

Pos-Player-To Par (Score)  

  1. Rory McIlroy -7 (65)
T1. Xander Schauffele -7 (65)
T1. Wyndham Clark -7 (65)
T4. Nick Taylor -6 (66)
T4. Matt Fitzpatrick -6 (66)

 Wyndham Clark at 14-under, takes a four-shot lead into Round 3 here at TPC Sawgrass, this makes it another weekend of starting out of the top spot. Only this time he’s alone in first place by four strokes rather than being tied with 5 other golfers like last week at Bay Hill. By opening with consecutive rounds of 7 under, Clark is the first in Players Championship history to shoot 65 or better in back-to-back rounds at TPC Sawgrass.

Xander Schauffele at 10-under, is currently in a 2nd place tie with Nick Taylor after carding a Friday 69. Schauffele is 16 under par in his last four rounds at TPC Sawgrass. When asked about being behind after 36 holes, Xander said, “Yeah, I’ve won from behind, and I think it should be maybe a little bit easier, but for the most part we’re just all here — like, we try to stick to our own process and get in our own world, and you kind of forget where you’re at when you do that well.”

Nick Taylor 10-under, was able to finish up his last four holes in 2 under to get into a tie for second entering the weekend. His history here before this week, found him never better than tied for 38th through two rounds at TPC Sawgrass.  His current total of 13 birdies over the first 36 holes, leaves only Clark’s 15 better than Taylor heading to Saturday.

Here are the names of a few notables that missed the -1cut line along with 63 others. There were 2 Withdrawals. Justin Thomas +1, Eric Cole +2, Jordan Spieth +2, Russell Henley +2, Will Zalatoris +4 and Keegan Bradley +6.

Round 2: Top 5

Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 2)
1. Wyndham Clark -14 (-7)
T2. Xander Schauffele -10 (-3)
T2. Nick Taylor -10 (-4)
T4. Matt Fitzpatrick -9 (-3)
T4. Maverick McNealy-9 (-4) 

Saturday is called “Moving Day” in a PGA tournament to emphasize the importance of moving yourself into a position on the leaderboard that gives you the best chance to be in contention to win the tournament on Sunday. 

 Xander Schauffele fired a seven-under par 65 to stand on 17-under today to move himself to the top of the leaderboard with Wyndham Clark 16-under and Brian Harman 15-under right behind him.

 Xander started today’s round 4 shots behind Clark but was 6-for-6 getting up and down, sank a 58-foot birdie putt at 14, then pulled ahead when Clark “splashed” his tee shot into the water for a bogey at the par-3 17th and then miraculously saved a clutch par at 18.

 “Just kind of made it work,” Schauffele said. “I only hit two fairways on the back nine so feels good. It’s nice to move up the leaderboard. It has been a while since I’ve had the lead out here just going to try to enjoy myself and remind myself, I’m good enough to win.”

 You could almost feel the momentum changing for Wyndham Clark -16 under as he slowly let Schauffele gain on him throughout the front nine. His 2 birdies and a bogey left him with just a 1 shot lead over Schauffele who garnered 4 birdies over the same stretch.

The back nine saw Clark repeat the front with 2 birdies and an embarrassing bogey on the 17th to finish up with another 35 and a 2-under 70. Meanwhile, Schauffele finished up with 3 birdies on the back for a 33 and 7-under 65. “It was kind of my off day,” Clark said. “I missed a couple putts early and a wedge on 17 but outside of that I thought I played pretty solid. I love where I’m at. I’m hoping I flip the script and have a Xander round tomorrow.”

Reigning British Open champion Brian Harman 15-under is currently 3rd on the leaderboard. His 4 birdies and 1 bogey (33) on the front nine was followed up with 5 birdies on the back nine (31) leaving him with a (64) and currently the week’s best round.

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick 13-under and American Maverick McNealy 13- under both find themselves just 4 shots off the lead tied for 4th place.

Round 3: Top 5

 Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 3)
1.   Xander Schauffele -17 (-7)
2.   Wyndham Clark -16 (-2)
3.   Brian Harman -15 (-8)
T4. Matt Fitzpatrick -13 (-4)
T4. Maverick McNealy -13 (-4)

Another beautiful spring morning welcomed a festive St. Patrick’s Day crowd here to the TPC Sawgrass Golf Course for this year’s Players’ final round. 

There was some late round drama as Xander Schauffele 19-under, 7 time PGA TOUR winner and 2020 Olympic Champion, along with the reigning British Open champion Brian Harman 19-under and the 2023 U.S.Open winner Wyndham Clark 19-under, all entered the final few holes within a shot of chasing down Scottie Scheffler 20-under  who was last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational winner and the Players Championship defending champion.

Schauffele and Clark were standing one and two shots behind Scheffler heading into the 17th hole while Harman went into the final hole needing at least a birdie to force a playoff but ended up with a par.

Both Schauffele and Clark had impressive tee shots to bring up birdie opportunities on the 17th, but Schauffele settled for par and Clark made birdie. It left both players at 19-under heading to the final hole. 

Schauffele’s tee shot on 18 settled in the pine straw leaving him with a difficult 2nd shot that settled on the green leaving him a 61-foot putt for a birdie and a tie with Scheffler. He missed the putt.

Clark had his chance for a birdie lip out in what one announcer call “Basket Interference” as his putt circled the hole dipped down and came back out for a tap in par and a three-way tie for 2nd place. “It was coming with some speed, too,” Clark said. “I don’t know how that putt doesn’t go in.” 

“It was kind of right center with like a foot to go,” he continued. “I knew it was going to keep breaking, but it had speed and I thought it was going inside left, and even when it kind of lipped, I thought it would lip in.” 

Final: Top 5

Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 4)
  1. Scottie Scheffler -20 (-8)
T2. Wyndham Clark -19 (-3)
T2. Xander Schauffele -19 (-2)
T2. Brian Harman -19 (-4)
  5. Matt Fitzpatrick -16 (-3)

Scottie Scheffler won The Players Championship again posting a 64 which ties for lowest ever winning score with unbelievably dramatic finish at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The winner of the 50th Anniversary Edition, of the 2024, Players Championship is Scottie Scheffler with a 20-under-par. Scottie received the beautiful Players Championship trophy, a check for $4.5 million, and 750 FedEx Cup points.

A rookie in 2020, it took Scheffler 26 months to win his first PGA Tour title at the 2022 Phoenix Open. Since then, however, he’s won seven more times, becoming the winningest player on Tour over this 28-month stretch. His current career earnings including the 2024 Players Championship are now $53,500,729.

Wyndham Clark 19, Brian Harman -19, and Xander Schauffele -19 tied for 2nd place and split the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place prize money. Each received a check for $1,891,666.00 along with 450 FedExCup Points Each.

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Bill Sangster

Bill Sangster, a life-long golf aficionado and former Sergeant in Marines, moved to Cape Cod in 1974 where he raised his family while working as educator with the Sandwich School System for 23 years. With his Falmouth home adjacent to Paul Harney’s Golf Course, Bill spent many days learning and playing the game of golf. He was a member of White Cliffs Country Club and Sandwich Hollows Country on Cape Cod. In 2018 he continued his love for the game of golf by moving to “The Villages” in Florida. He now will admit to anyone who asks that he is addicted to the game of golf! Bill can be reached at