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How strong is the field for the 2017 Players Championship?

 

Only a hand injury to Brant Snedeker keeps the tournament from getting commitments from every PGA Tour winner in the past two seasons.

Only Tiger Woods’ back injury keeps the tournament from getting every winner of the last 28 Players and major championships.

And only one player among the top 50 on this week’s world golf rankings, No. 25 Thomas Pieters of Belgium, declined to commit to the tournament by Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline without offering a reason to Tour officials.

That means 48 of the top-50 players in the world (Snedeker is 27th) will be at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass next week for the 44th Players, led by No. 1-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Jason Day, who will defend his 2016 title that he won wire-to-wire.

The tournament begins on May 11 with the strongest field in golf by any measure competing for a total purse of $10.5 million. The winner gets $1.89 million and 600 FedEx Cup points, 100 more than for winning most other Tour events.

By design, the PGA Tour has ensured that there are no free rides to its marquee event. Almost every player in the field has qualified because of recent noteworthy accomplishments, such as winning on the PGA Tour in the past 12 months, finishing among the top 125 on last year’s FedEx Cup points list, being among the top 50 on the world rankings as of last week or winning major championships, World Golf Championships or the Arnold Palmer Invitational over the past three-to-five years.

There are exceptions, and those players still earned their way to the Stadium. Bernhard Langer received an exemption by winning the 2016 Constellation Senior Players and Grayson Murray got in by winning the 2016 Web.com Finals money list. Wes Bryan would have been in the field on the basis of winning the Web.com Tour regular-season money list but he further proved he belonged last month by winning the RBC Heritage.

There were 153 players eligible for the tournament. In addition to Snedeker, Pieters and Woods, Colt Knost and Jon Curran had to miss The Players due to injuries, and John Senden announced he was leaving the Tour for an indefinite period last week because his 13-year-old son, Jacob, will be undergoing treatment for a brain tumor.

Also playing will be the winners of eight of the last 10 Players, winners of the last eight Masters, winners of the last eight U.S. Opens, winners of six of the last seven Open Championships and winners of the last seven PGA Championships. The players who combined to win the last 45 PGA Tour events will be starting.

Every FedEx Cup champion since the season-long points race began in 2007, except for Woods and Snedeker, will be at the Stadium Course. Snedeker, Senden, Curran and Knost are the only players from last year’s top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list who won’t make it.

Thirteen area players are in the field, led by 2012 Players champion Matt Kuchar of St. Simons Island, Ga., 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup captain and 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk of Ponte Vedra Beach, two-time major champion Zach Johnson of St. Simons Island, three-time major champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member Vijay Singh of Ponte Vedra, 2014 FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel of Ponte Vedra and two-time Tour winner and Jacksonville University graduate Russell Knox.

There is only one way left to make the Players field, and that’s to win the Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday in Wilmington, N.C. There’s a good chance of that happening.

Although a storm delay on Friday prevented the second round from being completed and the cut made, more than a dozen pros who are not in The Players field are within striking distance of the lead, including two-time major champion Retief Goosen of South Africa, Seamus Power of Ireland and Americans Morgan Hoffmann and Ken Duke.


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Source : http://jacksonville.com/sports/golf/2017-05-05/players-championship-field-features-48-top-50-world-rankings

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