The Players Championship at Sawgrass teed off this morning with a full field of golfers aiming for one of the PGA’s top prizes. The $9.5M purse will be handed out on Sunday at Ponta Vedra Beach, FL with the winner taking home a cool $1.71M.
The defending champion of this event is Henrik Stenson, who went off at +3500 at Bookmaker Sportsbook this morning. Stenson missed the cut at the Masters last month in his most recent PGA Tour showing, but he hopes to come back with vengeance at Sawgrass for what he hopes will be his first Top 25 finish of the season. Last year, Stenson shot -12 for the tournament, and more impressively -6 in the final round to seal up a victory. It was his first stroke play tournament victory on the PGA Tour.
However, all eyes will be on Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson over the course of this weekend.
Woods enters the TPC at Sawgrass coming off on an embarrassing weekend of golf at the Quail Hollow Championship in which he shot a 79 in the second round of the tournament. It was his worst score ever playing on American soil as a professional, and was the second highest score that he has ever recorded for a round since turning pro. Tiger tamed the course at Sawgrass in 2001 for his only victory at the TPC at Ponta Vedra. Even though Woods is normally the favorite to win an event every time he steps on the course, on this weekend, he only went off at Bookmaker Sportsbook at +900.
The favorite was none other than Mickelson, who has an opportunity to wrestle away the #1 ranking in the world this weekend from Woods. Lefty won this event in 2007 for his first and only win here at the TPC. Mickelson already has one huge trophy sitting on his mantle from this year, as he captured the Masters at Augusta National by shooting a -16 and winning by three shots. The +700 odds that he had when the prices came off of the board at Bookmaker Sportsbook were as low as Lefty has ever seen on tour in events involving Tiger Woods.
Other notables in the field at the Players Championship include Jim Furyk (+1500), Rory McIlroy (+1600), Ernie Els (+1800), Padraig Harrington (+2000), Lee Westwood (+2100), and Ian Poulter (+2500). 2008 champion Sergio Garcia was released at +5000, while ’06 champion Stephen Ames was +6600.