The Players Championship swings in big business to local economy

Ross Houston
March 13, 2019

The neck pain that forced him to withdraw from last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last week has gone, but as he prepares to tee up in his 18th Players Championship, Tiger Woods is destined to be that most unsafe of competitors - "the injured golfer".

A week after withdrawing from the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a sore neck, Woods was swinging freely in a nine-hole practice round, showing no signs of restriction in his game.

With a field that includes superstars like Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, and Brooks Koepka vying for their share of the largest purse in the sport at $12.5 million, this week's action should be as intense as ever.

"It was getting to the point where it was affecting my setup, my backswing, my through swing, " said Woods. But there is a lot more to this course than just a gimmicky island green, so lets get to it.

Keeping his lower back more pliable will prevent a recurrence. "I was starting to get a little stiffer and tighter and unfortunately I was hitting the ball halfway decent but it wasn't hitting it hard". "I know that sounds lame, but we have to play 18 holes in a round of golf, we can't just get excited for one of them".

Several players made early scouting trips to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., ahead of The Players Championship this week, even if they have played often in the so-called "Fifth Major".

Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy are listed as co-favorites for this week's Players Championship, but which sleepers should you keep an eye on this week at TPC Sawgrass?

Woods meanwhile said he was satisfied that the neck problem had not disrupted his preparations for next month's Masters, where he will once again attempt to end an 11-year wait for a 15th major. Like so many tournaments in recent years, Woods has missed the majority but a T11 here last year and a victory just two starts before that (2013) shows this really is a layout that suits his game. - Tiger Woods' mentoring of Justin Thomas appears to have paid dividends, as Woods has borrowed Thomas' putting coach, Matt Killen.

"Matt has seen my stroke enough", Woods said. I have to try to manage it the best I possibly can and not push it.

Although it doesn't appear to be a permanent relationship, it's the first time Woods has worked with a coach of any sort since parting with Chris Como in 2017.

Not everyone is convinced that will remain the case now that the Players has moved back to March after a decade of being played in May, when the course was firmer and permitted lesser mortals on the PGA Tour to get added distance with roll. He's not a strong pick to win it all and there are far better values in this loaded field. There is a new date for this year, however, with the event switching to March from May, which could alter the nature of the course and potentially the likely contenders. The 80-time PGA Tour victor has won this tournament twice. "That's probably the biggest difference".

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