Featured Columnist Andy Reistetter is on site in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida for THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Hello this is Andy Reistetter reporting to you from THE PLAYERS Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
The famed island green of the 137-yard par-3 17th hole is right here behind me.
As PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem likes to say, "there are four majors but only one PLAYERS!"
For the leader of the free world of professional golf, this is the week for the home of the PGA TOUR to shine.
Augusta National has its Masters, the U.S.G.A. has its United States Open, the Royal and Ancient has its British Open, the PGA of America has its PGA Championship, and the professional golfers of the world have their very own PLAYERS.
On this course play the greatest golfers in the world, competing for the right to be called the PLAYERS Champion
No one has dominated this tournament since the great Jack Nicklaus won three of the first five championships.
When he did dominate, it was not on this golf course.
Will anyone ever dominate the PLAYERS Championship like the majors?
Nicklaus winning the Masters six times, or Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson winning the U.S. Open four times, or Harry Vardon winning the British Open six times, or Nicklaus and Walter Hagen winning the PGA Championship five times?
Why is it that no one has ever dominated the PLAYERS Championship?
The field is too strong.
The field is too deep with 145 competitors this year.
This golf course truly tests every aspect of a golfer's game and favors no one style of play or golfer.
This year soft ground conditions with little wind so far has produced a scoring bonanza not seen since Greg Norman's triumph here in 1994 at 24-under par.
Lee Westwood's 12-under total after two rounds ties Nick Price in 1993 and is two behind Norman's record pace.
Don't expect that to continue throughout the weekend.
Course setup, mainly the locations of tees and holes, will likely be made more difficult to limit the scoring.
On Thursday I followed Sergio Garcia.
Remember when he won here only two years ago and he seemed destined to break through and win a major?
Now it seems like he has lost the edge and even the title of "the best player to never have won a major."
Garcia scrambled a bit and made some putts.
With a decent 69-70 start he is seven strokes behind Westwood, who stole his caddie Billy Foster.
It was playing partner Boo Weekley whose game made a resurgence on Thursday.
He birdied five straight holes, which is one short of the PLAYERS record held by six golfers.
His birdie barrage started in "the Water Closet" and finished after making the turn at No. 2 as Weekley started on No. 10.
The Water Closet?
Yes—the famed three water-laden finishing holes on the Stadium Course—the 523-yard dogleg left, par-5 16th with water right and long of the green; the 17th green completely encapsulated by water, and the 462-yard, par-4 18th with water all the way down the left side.
The Water Closet?
Yes, you either flush the shots and make the putts or these holes flush you down the drain and down the leader board!
You heard that first right here!
The low scoring continued on Friday.
First round co-leader J.B. Holmes was six strokes behind the leader Westwood before he teed off in the afternoon!
I followed Westwood Friday morning and he was as hot as the Florida sun—simply sizzling hot
With one eagle, 12 birdies, and two bogeys in 36 holes he has a one stroke lead over Ryuji Imada, Francesco Molinari, and Heath Slocum.
In the afternoon I followed Heath Slocum, who shot a bogey-free five-birdie impressive 66.
This cool cucumber played steady golf as he started his round on No. 10 and birdied the first three holes.
He stayed dry through the "Water Closet" and added birdies at the par-5 second hole, reaching it in two swings; the par-4 sixth hole, and making a nice 25-footer on his final hole, the ninth, to wrap up a great round.
The Water Closet?
I chatted with Craig Perks, the 2002 PLAYERS Champion who is broadcasting for the PGA Tour Network from the 17th tee in the "Water Closet."
Remember this is where he went chip-in eagle, birdie putt for deuce, and chip-in par to win and stun the field?
Speaking of a miracle I told him this must feel like "Al-LE-LU-IA Corner" to him.
Hey don't we all get spiritual in the bathroom?
It was fun to watch Slocum's playing partner, Scotland's Martin Laird hole a 6-iron from 211 yards for eagle at the 471-yard, par-4 fifth hole. From the left rough the ball landed 35 feet on the green, released, and rolled the final 35 feet right into the hole.
Tiger Woods, playing in only his eighth competitive round of golf in over five months time, started 70-71 and made the cut by two strokes.
Folks—only eight competitive rounds in over five months!
Ditto for Mickelson.
Both starting the weekend T46, let's see what happens!
70 players made the cut at 1-under-par
Notables to miss the cut included Angel Cabrera, Ian Poulter, Open Champion Stewart Cink, defending champion Henrik Stenson, Camilo Villegas, father Jay Haas while son Bill is within five strokes of the lead, Geoff Ogilvy, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, and last week's sensational winner and now a 21-year old Rory McIlroy?
Maybe the birthday celebration on Tuesday night was a bit too much?
We have a dramatic weekend in store for us.
Certainly an exciting Sunday afternoon right here in the "Water Closet."
My friends, this is Andy Reistetter wishing you good living and good golfing.
The Water Closet?
Remember you heard it first right here!
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer. He follows the PGA TOUR volunteering and working part time for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, and The Golf Channel.
He resides in Jacksonville Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.