The distinct challenges that THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass presents for THE PLAYERS Championship are all-conquering; every error seems to be punished tenfold. Since its inception in 1974, THE PLAYERS Championship has been the flagship tournament on the PGA Tour’s calendar. The perks; 600 FedExCup points, equal to the four major championships, a similar amount of Official World Golf Ranking points to the majors and a five-year exemption on the PGA TOUR. A prize fund of $10.5 million for 2016 - the highest prize fund of any tournament in golf - was further endorsed by the sheer level of competition in the field. To categorize such a prize, the $1.89 million winner’s fund usurps that of Arnold Palmer’s entire career earnings.
For PGA TOUR players, this is an event that is ear-marked from the beginning of the season. Over the last twenty years or so, the event has grown both in stature and as a spectator experience. THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass tests every aspect of a players’ game. The hole, often referred to as the “Island Green” is the course’s signature hole, and one of the most iconic and recognizable holes in the world.
The “Fifth Major” as it is so often referred to, is the PGA TOUR’s major. It brings the best of the best out, but also presents a course which can crucify you in a heartbeat (see; Bob Tway’s third round 12 on 17 in 2005). Patience really is a virtue here.
“It’s one of the toughest courses we play all year,” said 2015 champion Rickie Fowler. “Probably the toughest field that we play all year. So, I mean, whoever is winning is taking care of business, beating the best players at the time and conquering one of the toughest courses that we play.”
From its inauguration in 1974, THE PLAYERS has seen it all. From Greg Norman’s wizardry in 1994, where he shot a course record 264, to Steve Lowery finding dry land on 17th in 1998, only for a seagull to take it upon himself to dunk it into the lake, the history of this prestigious event is illustrious.
Each Friday for the next 42 weeks, QuintEvents, in association with THE PLAYERS, will recount the story of each of the previous 42 winners. Beginning with Jack Nicklaus’ maiden victory at the Atlanta Country Club right up to Jason Day's triumph in 2016, we'll tell their tales of success leading us all the way up to 2017’s event!
John Mahaffey, 1986
The 1986 PLAYERS Championship will be remembered as the tournament that Larry Mize lost. Leading by four shots over John Mahaffey heading into the final round, Larry Mize’s lead, for the majority of Sunday, remained until a string of consecutive bogeys cost him the biggest victory of his career.
Despite making a mistake on 14 where he bogeyed, Mize’s miss was not capitalized upon by Mahaffey.
On the 15th, he bogeyed again and could’ve counted himself lucky not to make double. His approach went to the left in a bunker, before blowing his sand shot across the green into more rough. A nice chip got him back to six feet and made that putt for bogey.
Mahaffey missed a 6-footer for birdie, but missed and Mize lost only one stroke, cutting his lead to two.
On 16, Mahaffey hit a 4-iron second shot to the green and two-putted for birdie-4. Mize found the rough, and was lucky to miss the water on his third and got it in the rough, stubbed a chip, then missed a 10-footer.
While Mahaffey was made to work for par on 17, Mize missed a putt from five feet to regain the lead, meaning the pair were tied heading to 18.
On the 18th green, Mize’s misfortune continued. After a delightful approach and chip, a miss from three feet all but gifted the tournament to Mahaffey – who parred – and it was all over, 13-under-par and one ahead of Mize.
Tim Simpson, never really in the title-chase, matched par 72 over the touring pros' home course and was third alone at 280.
The 2017 PLAYERS® Championship
Beginning May 9, 2017, THE PLAYERS Championship is the PGA TOUR’s most anticipated tournament and coveted title. Held at TPC Sawgrass, the “Stadium Course” gives fans and unprecedented experience with on-site access you simply will not get anywhere else.
Watch the world’s best players battle it out at the purest test in golf. By choosing THE PLAYERS Club, you’ll have access to the practice and tournament rounds of your choosing on individual days or for the full week. You’ll also be granted private access to the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse, as well as private suites overlooking the 18th Green and signature 17th Tee!