The Players Championship leaderboard 2019.
Venue: TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Date: March 14-17, 2019
Course stats: Par 72, 7,189 yards
Course summary: Although the Stadium Course is renowned for its spectacular finish, and particularly the 17th, there’s much more to this resort-style parkland than just the back three. It gets particularly tricky during the middle part of the front nine but players who can get through the turn intact have the chance to pick up some shots before the climax.
Purse: $12.5 million
Defending champion: Webb Simpson (-18).
The Players Championship leaderboard 2019
Players Championship report: What happened at TPC Sawgrass?
Since the beginning of 2018, Rory McIlroy has played the final group on Sunday no fewer than nine times. He went on to win precisely zero.
So it was perhaps a relief on Saturday when, despite completing the first 54 holes in exactly the same amount of shots as third-round playing partner Tommy Fleetwood, it was the Englishman who was placed in the final pairing with leader Jon Rahm on the first in, last out rule.
Without that additional pressure looming on his shoulders, McIlroy snatched a one-shot victory on a captivating day at TPC Sawgrass, where at one point there were 17 players within four shots of the lead. Even with the final handful of pairings coming down the stretch, any one of eight players could have won it.
Jim Furyk, playing some incredible golf since handing the Ryder Cup captaincy to Steve Stricker, set the target at 15-under which was eventually good enough for 2nd, while Players debutant Eddie Pepperell, whose joint round-of-the-day 66 which included a mesmerising birdie at 17, gave the Englishman a share for 3rd.
— Skratch (@Skratch) March 17, 2019
Alongside Pepperell was Jhonattan Vegas, who also carded a 66 that included a special moment on the island green.
!!!!!!!!!! WHAT?! pic.twitter.com/VTp4lZxdVP
— Skratch (@Skratch) March 17, 2019
For McIlroy, whose record in 2019 reads 4th-5th-4th-2nd-6th-1st, his 2-under-par 70 was enough for a St Patrick’s Day victory at PGA Tour HQ.
McIlroy becomes just the 5th European to win The Players, joining Sandy Lyle, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer, and just the second from the United Kingdom.
— THE PLAYERS (@THEPLAYERSChamp) March 17, 2019
McIlroy has become just the third player in the four-major era to have won 15 or more PGA Tour titles, including four majors, before the age of 30.
I don’t think we need to tell you who the other two are.
Players Championship report: Talking points (Sunday)
Can we go just one round without someone picking up a penalty for an obscure rules infraction?
This time it was the defending champion, Webb Simpson, who came a cropper on the 14th hole for accidentally causing his ball to move.
If you think you’ve heard it all as well, wait for this. He apparently caught his long putter in his shirt and slightly moved the ball, which was lying fractionally off the green in the fringe.
As a result, he had to take a one shot penalty. Annoyingly for Webb, had he done it on the green he’d have been able put it back without any cost.
The penalty doesn’t apply when a ball is accidentally moved on the putting surface.
Needless to say, he was less than impressed when asked about it after he finished with a 68 to sit just inside the top 20.
Webb Simpson on ruling at No 14 that led to a one-stroke penalty. "So this is where I'm going to be loud and clear, we have to get intent into the rules. We have to. Because it's killing our game when it comes to these kind of things,” he said.
— Rex Hoggard (@RexHoggardGC) March 17, 2019
Maybe we’re just paying more attention but it’s three months now since the new rules came into effect and the laws are dominating every single tournament.
You do feel like something has to bend, or break. Surely they can’t keep going on like this from week to week?
Jim Furyk may have been a shot short in his bid to become the oldest participant to triumph at The Players – he would have been 23 days older than 2005 champ Fred Funk – but the 48-year-old has proved his days of winning PGA Tour events aren’t quite over yet.
Steps up when he needed it most.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 17, 2019
Ryder Cup captaincy is usually the death-knell for the career of a late-40s veteran but Furyk’s been in decent form all season for anyone who was surprised by his surge at Sawgrass.
He hasn’t won since the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town in 2015 but Furyk has suffered wrist and shoulder injuries, as well as shepherding Team USA at Le Golf National, and has finally been free this year to concentrate on playing and practising.
If you’d thought he’d lost any of his competitive drive, check out what he said when we caught up with him a couple of weeks before his heroics at Ponte Vedra Beach.
“To win on the PGA Tour again would mean probably as much or more than any win in my career.
“If I could win one more time, out on Tour, it would mean a lot to me. I’m healthy again. The last year I was healthy was 2015 and I was ranked fourth in the world that year.
“I’m older now, and a different player now, but I’d really like to see what I could do on Tour and how I could compete and how competitive I could be.”
You want to know how hard it is to win? Consider the struggles of the 54-hole leader down the years at The Players.
The last person in pole position after round three to post a score in the 60s at Sawgrass was Stephen Ames back in 2006. The average final round score of the man in front with 18 to go was 74.9 before today.
Jon Rahm didn’t improve that. His back nine troubles, and a dunk at 17 that resulted in a double bogey, saw him shoot 76.
Webb Simpson is one of only four third-round leaders – Tiger in 2013, Martin Kaymer in 2014 and Jason Day in 2016 are the others – who’ve managed to get it done.
Click here to read the full round up from TPC Sawgrass.