PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA | This is where the Players Championship belongs on the golf calendar.
Mid-March, smack dab in the middle of a changing season when the weather is a part of the storyline, just the way Pete and Alice Dye imagined it when they dug the Stadium Course out of the muck here all those years ago.
The Players Championship was good in May when the muggy heat brought out the shorts, the sandals and the sundresses but, at least in my mind, it always looked and played better in March.
A proper thunderstorm doused the place Monday night and brought with it wind, mud balls and a fresh conversation, not to mention players taking advantage of the new shorts-allowed in practice rounds rule while wearing pullovers up top.
How is the Players in March different?
In his Tuesday morning practice round, Tiger Woods hit 3-wood, 3-iron into the 18th green, with the wind coming from the northwest rather than southwest which turned the hole into a hybrid-short iron finisher in May.
Jason Day isn’t going to win hitting 2-irons off seemingly every tee like he did when he won three years ago.
Power has never been the first quality demanded by the Stadium Course and it still isn’t. Positioning is critical. Miss a fairway and pay a price.
It’s a head game as much as a shot-making game here.
Some critics will argue the Stadium Course is too contrived, too severe, too everything. But try to figure out a pattern to who wins here. There isn’t one.
Unless you ...
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