The Players Championship is one of the most exciting tournaments each season, and the 2014 edition with a first-place prize of $1.8 million will help make the competition at TPC Sawgrass even more intense.
With the defending tournament champion and the world’s No. 1 golfer Tiger Woods out of action, the focus on players like Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar, who are hunting to take the top spot away, has golf fans legitimately excited.
The PGA Tour's Twitter account shared how important this tournament is for these men:
4 different players can become World No. 1 at #THEPLAYERS: Adam Scott: Top 16 Henrik Stenson: Top 6 Bubba Watson: 2nd alone Matt Kuchar: Win— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 7, 2014
Here is the live leaderboard and standings as the competition gets started and the player golf fans must keep their eye on throughout the Players Championship.
*Full leaderboard found at PGATour.com.
Player to Watch: Bubba Watson
After winning the Masters for the second time in April, Watson took time off from golf to relax with his family and do charity work. While Watson enjoyed the spoils of being a two-time green jacket winner, it’s back to business this week.
Will Bubba Watson win the 2014 Players Championship?
Watson understands his struggles at the course, but he still hasn’t been able to improve his performances. He has missed the tournament cut three times, finished 45th in 2011 and finished 37th twice during his career.
With momentum on his side after his monumental victory at the Masters, though, Watson is looking to put on the best performance of his career at the tough golf course.
After taking time off after his victory at the Masters, Watson told Steve DiMeglio of USA Today about his perception of TPC Sawgrass and his struggles on the course:
When I look down No. 1 and No. 10, just to give you an example, it's hard to tell the fairway and the rough. It all kind of blends in together. I don't like to look at a tree and aim at a tree. I like to see the lay of the land and that's how I hit my shots. So it's very difficult when you look at a golf course like that. So it makes it difficult for me. But the challenge is there. I'm on a streak. I made cut the last two years, so maybe a 36th this year and I get my best tournament (finish) ever here.
Watson joked about his poor finishes at the course, but the numbers are nothing to laugh about. According to NBC’s Golf Central Twitter account, Watson has finished this tournament poorly almost every time:
“I’m on a streak; I've made the cut the last 2 years." - Bubba Watson pic.twitter.com/SPJ5D67CQG— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) May 6, 2014
Watson is one of the best ball-strikers in the world, and he will need to hit with incredible accuracy this week to contend for a win. Accuracy is not typically one of Watson’ biggest strengths, but his success at the Masters has him brimming with confidence.
There is no questioning the raw power of his driver off the tee—a huge boost on the longer holes—but with several short par-three and par-four holes on the course, Watson will have to focus on keeping his ball on the fairways and the greens.
If Watson wants to win his first Players Championship, he will have to sacrifice some of his power for accuracy and consistency. After the win at the Masters, Watson’s confidence will have him trying anything and everything on the course.
Predicted Tournament Finish: 2014 Players Championship Winner
Stats via PGATour.com.