While the Players Championship is not quite a major, it holds your breath each year down to the last hole. There is water on almost every hole, and then there is usually just enough wind to make each player have to really focus to stay dry. When Sunday is finished at the Players each year, the pros are exhausted from having to be so focused for so long. It is truly a grind, but at the same time, a great spectator event. For “we” amateurs, there is a little bit of pleasure in seeing these phenomenal golfers who hit drives 320 yards, and 7 irons 195 drop a few in the surrounding ponds.
But this year’s winner, Matt Kuchar avoided the water all day Sunday, played solid throughout, and sailed into the winner’s circle with a two shot victory. He is known for consistency (leads the tour in top 10 finishes this year), and was truly the odds on favorite going into Sunday. While he was one shot back of Kevin Na going into the final round, his recent experience of being in the hunt on the final day at the Masters, and overall game, Kuchar was the one to beat and he proved it. But the course never lets you rest, and it took a solid last hole to win.
Rickie Fowler dialed it in late in the round, and while playing in the group in front of Kuchar and Na, had a five footer on 18 to get to within one, and really apply the pressure to Kuchar. But, his putt slide right, and “Kooch” had two shots to play with on the last hole.
But watching the Players over the weekend was not just about the golf, and who would do what; but about how many “starts and stops” Kevin “Na-Na-Na-Na” would take over each shot. Because he played so well on Saturday, he was on screen virtually the entire day, and by the time the telecast ended, I think I had developed an eye twich. What is up with that? And then after stopping once or twice in mid-swing, how does he then hit it well? He even does it on chips and putts!! Oh, my goodness, I have to say it was nice to see him fall back mid-round Sunday, and not have his every shot on camera. Poor guy – hope he can fix it! It is annoying to everyone!
But each year, this very interesting golf course built by Pete Dye with the direction of then PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman, brings the spectators and fans a great four days. Both in person and on TV, it is so interesting to watch, and of course #17 lies in waiting for the players. And while it may never be a major, the Players ranks up there with both the fans and pros as one of the greatest theatres for the game of golf…..”Kooch, Kooch,Kooch”!!! – Great win!