While we’re talking anniversaries, today is the 24th anniversary of the Palm Pilot release. Time flies when you’re outdated technology.

Let’s just see how far we’ve come

A year after canceling the Players Championship in the face of a rising Covid-19 threat, the PGA Tour returns to TPC Sawgrass this week. The pinnacle (or “gold standard”?) of PGA Tour events, the Players got through just one round in 2020. We advocated for the results of that round, including Hideki Matsuyama’s 63, to stand, but sadly we were overruled. Thems the breaks. Players Championship Tee Times

The anniversary has offered an occasion to reflect on that frightening week, the ensuing months of lockdowns and canceled tournaments, and finally the PGA Tour’s return in May. No doubt the Tour has done remarkably well in these trying times. There have been low numbers of Covid cases among players and caddies, and there have been no large-scale outbreaks. The pandemic is far from over, but the PGA Tour has created a semblance of normalcy over the past nine months, and we’re grateful for that.

All right, onto the event at hand. We’re legitimately pumped for the 2021 Players Championship. TPC Sawgrass is one of the best venues on the PGA Tour, and we’re excited to see the world’s best play four full rounds there for the first time since 2019.

Some storylines we’ll be tracking… 

The conditions – We wondered whether tour officials would allow for firm turf at Bay Hill, and they delivered. In fact, over the past month they’ve been more willing than usual to let the conditions get fiery. TPC Sawgrass could shine, too, but recently the Tour has had a tendency to over-water it. Let’s hope the Players makes its return with a lightning-fast Stadium Course.

The setup – After the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy said he hit 5-iron into every par 3. That’s boring. In general, however, the PGA Tour has been relatively experimental with setups lately. We saw alternate tee boxes at Pebble Beach, daring pins at the Concession, and short rough at Riviera. With TPC Sawgrass’s intricate greens and flexible teeing grounds, the Tour’s setup crew could introduce a lot of variety by moving pins and tees in interesting ways.

Got a lot of energy – You can’t deny that live fans add juice to a golf tournament. We saw (and heard) it last week when Bryson’s bombs found dry land on Bay Hill’s 6th hole and Jordan Spieth’s tee ball on the 2nd hole found the bottom of the cup on Saturday. This week we arrive at a course that was built with galleries in mind. The shot on No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass is always difficult, but it becomes terrifying when fans are watching from the bleacher-like slopes around the lake. Even while socially distanced, the crowd is likely to bring the noise this weekend. We’ll see how the players respond.

Every Shot Live – In case you missed the announcement, the PGA Tour will have more than 90 cameras stationed around TPC Sawgrass this weekend in an effort to make every shot available live through PGA Tour Live. If successful, this operation would be another step forward in broadcasting.

Quick Hooks

Because of Covid-related challenges, the RBC Canadian Open has been canceled. The PGA Tour is looking for a U.S. venue to fill in. Press Release

You may have heard that Bryson DeChambeau was thinking about hitting his drive from the 18th tee to the 9th fairway at TPC Sawgrass. Well, too bad, big man. Yesterday, the PGA Tour announced it had established in-course out-of-bounds left of the water on No. 18. What a world we live in that this is even a consideration!

Danny Willett tested positive for Covid-19 at TPC Sawgrass and withdrew from the Players Championship. He was replaced by Kramer Hickok.

We’ll see if one yard of rough is enough to keep balls from going in the water left of the 12th fairway this year.

Rory McIlroy appears to have shut down the idea that the European Tour will host events in Florida this summer. The Euros were rumored to be mulling that possibility as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

This Jordan Spieth fan did a class project on his favorite golfer and was able to recite it to the man himself on Tuesday.

The Latest from The Fried Egg

TFE Weekly Pool: Players Championship – This week’s pool features an abundance of questions about how players will do at TPC Sawgrass. Enter for your chance to win TFE merchandise!

Paulie’s Picks: Players Championship – In our opinion, Paulie is the gold standard of fantasy golf experts. See which players he likes in DraftKings and one-and-done leagues for this weekend’s Players Championship!

Fried Egg Stories (Rerelease): Alligator Pit – The Making of TPC Sawgrass

Originally posted amid the confusion of last year’s Players Championship, we’ve rereleased our Fried Egg Stories episode on TPC Sawgrass. Garrett Morrison talked with Deane Beman, Jerry Pate, Vernon Kelly, Tom Doak, Sean Martin, and Adam Schupak about the making of the Stadium Course. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Shotgun Start: Sawgrass Brown Out, 12th tee tinkering, and Internal OB-gate

The Gold Standard is back! This wide-ranging preview episode covers some course setup drama, another Jay Monahan appearance on CNBC, an Illinois basketball grievance, syllable efficiency on the tee sheet, and much more. They begin with some thoughts on an uninformed CNBC inquisitor botching another Commish visit with the network. Then Brendan offers some thoughts on why The Players, the actual event, is so enjoyable while the lard added onto it, is worthy of some backlash. Andy delights in yet another tweak to the 12th hole at TPC Sawgrass, this one a new tee allegedly to keep pace of play moving the first two days. The late mid-week change of declaring internal OB, aka The Bryson Rule, is debated. Some favorite tee times are highlighted, including a UPS quarantine and groups they would most/least want to join as a fourth. New hits on Webb Simpson prioritizing the FedExCup over the Olympics and a possible replacement for the canceled Canadian Open. They close with a Masters Fact of the Day on the icy relationship between Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

You might not be able to hop in the flower barge or even tee it up at TPC Sawgrass, but we hope you peg it somewhere this weekend. Grab some Fried Egg tees for the occasion!