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The Players Championship 2013: Top Storylines Heading into TPC Sawgrass

Fred AltvaterContributor IIMay 6, 2013

The Players Championship 2013: Top Storylines Heading into TPC Sawgrass

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    The golf course is always one of the biggest storylines when the PGA Tour visits TPC Sawgrass. 

    Pete and Alice Dye designed and built the Stadium Course in 1980 at TPC Sawgrass as the ultimate viewer friendly course. It was the first of the TPC courses and has set the standard for all that have come after.

    Dye kept digging around the green at the par-3 No. 17 and created one of the most photographed and controversial holes in golf.

    Even PGA Tour players begin to think about the tee shot on No. 17 when they start their rounds on the first hole.

    No. 17 is always a factor in deciding the winner at the Players Championship.

Will Tiger Woods Get His Fourth Win of the Year?

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    Tiger Woods is always a big story every time he tees it up. 

    He has three wins in 2013 and has moved back into the No. 1 spot on the Official World Golf Rankings.

    In his last start at the Masters, Woods finished T-4 and made headlines when he was assessed a two-stroke penalty for an incorrect drop.

    Woods has not won a major title since the 2008 U.S. Open.

    The Players Championship is not a major, but it is as close as it gets and Woods is always trying to win. 

Will Vijay Singh Address His Non-Suspension and Deer Antler Spray?

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    Vijay Singh has been in the headlines recently for his admitted use of a banned substance IGF-1, contained in Deer Antler Spray.

    PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem, announced on Tuesday that Singh would not be suspended or penalized by the tour. 

    Singh, who was scheduled to compete at the Wells Fargo in Charlotte last week, withdrew from the tournament after the Wednesday pro-am.

    The Players Championship will be the first chance media will have to question Singh after the announcement.

Is Phil Mickelson Back on Form?

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    Phil Mickelson has had a solid year in 2013. He won in Phoenix added a T-3 at Doral and is sixth in the FedEx Cup rankings.

    He just added another third-place finish at the Wells Fargo last week. He was tied for the lead after 54 holes but only managed a one-over par 73 on Sunday.

    He won the Players Championship in 2007 and his game appears to be on form enough to win it again.

    "Phil the Thrill" is always fun to watch and there is not a trouble shot that he is unwilling to attempt. 

    TPC Sawgrass provides many opportunities for spectacular recovery shots in every round.

Has Brandt Snedeker Recovered from His Poor Final Round at the Masters?

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    The 2013 season is just half over and Brandt Snedeker has already had a career year. He has earned $3.1 million and is No. 2 in the FedEx Cup rankings.

    After runner-up finishes to Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods in consecutive weeks, he broke through by winning the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach.

    He was forced to take some time away from the tour to rehab pulled rib muscles, but rebounded to be a factor in the Masters.

    A disappointing final round 75 moved him down to T-6 at Augusta National, but Snedeker's putting stroke always makes him a favorite to win, especially on a tough golf course like TPC Sawgrass.

    Can he continue to dominate the leaderboard and collect another big title? 

Will an International Player Win the 2013 Players Championship?

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    Matt Kuchar won last year and will defend his title, but international players have won five of the last seven Players Championships.

    Stephen Ames, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Tim Clark and K.J. Choi are past winners. 

    In 19 PGA Tour events thus far in 2013, only three international players have won on tour.

    Martin Laird won the Valero Texas Open, Graeme McDowell won at Hilton Head and Adam Scott won the Masters.

    Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter have all been playing very solid golf. 

    Could it be their time to get a big win?

How Will the Weather Affect Play at TPC Sawgrass?

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    Heavy rains in the Jacksonville, Florida area last week have made the TPC Sawgrass wet and soggy. As much as 10 inches of rain fell on the course Thursday through Saturday.

    Spectators will not be allowed on the golf course on Monday. Instead, ticket holders will be allowed to attend Tuesday's practice round.

    Soft conditions may put a premium on length. Normally, TPC Sawgrass plays firm and fast. Perfect placement of tee shots become more important than a 325-yard drive.

    The forecast calls for perfect weather throughout the week with a chance of thunderstorms on Sunday.

    As the course dries out later in the week we may see shot makers move to the front of the leaderboard. 

Will Rory McIlroy Return to World Class Form?

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    Rory McIlroy ascended to the No. 1 world ranking in 2012. He signed a big contract with Nike in the offseason and has not been able to regain the form that helped him win both the PGA and European Tour money titles last year.

    He did not perform well at Augusta National, but has begun to show signs that his game is returning with a runner-up finish at the Valero Texas Open and T-10 at the Wells Fargo. 

    McIlroy is No. 31 on the FedEx Cup ranking and No. 2 in the world.

    A win this week at the Players would reestablish him as a true force in golf.

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