Justin Thomas mentioned this week that it took him a very long time to be taught the course and the way it labored in Could, the date of the event the place he recorded his finest outcome, T3, in 2016.
Since 2019, he added with fun, he should have discovered the way it’s entering into March.
“In the event you drive nicely,” he mentioned, “being in March it should at all times be smoother, the fairways and the greens, and you are able to do so many birds right here. You will have 4 par-5s, a number of brief golf equipment scoring holes. However for those who take it out of play, you miss the fairways, you’re taking it out of play on par-5s, it is exhausting to drag below par right here.
Webb Simpson missed the cup in 4 of his first six PLAYERS begins, however gained in 2018.
“I simply discovered that it’s a must to respect the golf course,” he says. “There are issues in each gap.”
This yr’s actual rookies embrace, however usually are not restricted to Cameron Percy, 46, the oldest debutant to fail to win on the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS. Scott Harrington is not too far behind at 40. Maverick McNealy is co-owner of the profession successful document at Stanford (11). Lefty Robert MacIntyre is from Oban, Scotland. Tyler McCumber has Sawgrass in his blood.
24-year-old Will Zalatoris is essentially the most well-known actual newbie. He climbed the world rankings (forty seventh) and got here out of a T10 on the Arnold Palmer Invitational introduced by Mastercard.
Newcomers for the second time, nonetheless, are actually harmful.
Final August, Morikawa gained the PGA Championship, changing into the ninth participant to win the PGA on his debut. He shot a 4-under 68 within the first spherical of THE PLAYERS final yr and climbed excessive after successful the WGC-Workday Championship together with his new “noticed” placing grip.
As for the concept that he should pay his dues on the stadium, do not be so positive.
“I did my regular preparation Monday by means of Wednesday,” he mentioned of 2020, “and I used to be capable of play Junior PLAYERS, although I used to be by no means in rivalry. It isn’t like I am displaying up after enjoying only one event spherical. I’ve seen him fairly a bit now. For me, each week I see the identical guys, and that is what helps me whatever the title of the event.
Norwegian Viktor Hovland additionally appears set to win. The highest 5 spots in 4 of his final six begins, together with a victory on the Mayakoba Golf Basic introduced by UNIFIN, locations him third within the FedExCup. Furthermore, he additionally shot 68 in his one and solely spherical of competitors right here.
“I have not given it a lot thought,” he mentioned, when requested if he felt extra like a rookie or a second. “I suppose it will likely be my first as a result of I solely acquired one spherical. It was an excellent journey.
“I’ve fond reminiscences of that day,” he continued, “I am going to attempt to construct on it. I have not performed a lot there. I performed JUNIOR PLAYERS. It is a enjoyable path; Cannot wait to play once more. “
Scottie Scheffler additionally acquired his first take a look at Sawgrass at Junior PLAYERS. He too shot a 68 opening final yr.
“I really feel like I do know the course fairly nicely,” he mentioned.
The identical goes for South African Christian Bezuidenhout, who burned Sawgrass with a 65 final yr. This spherical however, he mentioned, he nonetheless appears like a newcomer this week.
“THE PLAYERS is the one everybody needs,” he mentioned. “That is the largest PGA TOUR occasion outdoors of the majors. I want to play this course 4 laps and end Sunday. “
As all of them would – and this yr they are going to. We’re about to see what occurs when one of the proficient rookie courses in historical past takes the largest stage of the TOUR.