Whoa. Hello. Given all the NCAA basketball action and Tom Brady hysteria, we weren’t sure you’d show up today. But it’s great to see you!
The Backyahd at Essex County Club
A weekend to remember
We’re just three days removed from our last newsletter, but it feels like a lifetime. The 2022 Players Championship has endured multiple days of horrendous weather and come out the other side with roughly 27 holes to go. Friday was almost a complete wash and Saturday brought brutally difficult conditions, but it appears that a Monday finish is doable. Anirban Lahiri currently leads at nine under, with Tom Hoge and Harold Varner III one back.
Luck of the draw – Every year, players at the Open Championship know that weather could eliminate an entire tee-time wave from contention. That kind of luck has now become a factor in the 2022 Players Championship. Those who had late tee times on Thursday and early tee times on Friday faced the worst of this week’s weather at TPC Sawgrass. First these players gutted out rain on Friday morning, then they faced between 18 and 27 holes in high winds on Saturday. In total, the scoring gap between the early/late and late/early waves was approximately three strokes. Only one late/early player, Doug Ghim, made it into the top 15 through 36 holes. The disparity led to a spirited debate, especially in the gambling community, about whether any play should have happened on Saturday. The course was playable in the wind, but one hole in particular got on a lot of people’s nerves: the island-green 17th.
No. 17, fair play? – Hitting Pete and Alice Dye’s island green is always a mental test, but most pros handle it just fine in calm conditions. On Thursday morning, only one player in the early wave found the water. But Saturday’s wind changed everything. Thirty-three balls, most of them belonging to players in the late/early wave, landed in the drink in the second round. The carnage prompted a lively discussion. On Saturday night’s edition of Live From The Players on Golf Channel, Brandel Chamblee and Paul McGinley sparred over whether No. 17 was fair. Chamblee referred to it as a “disaster of a hole” and called for it to be redesigned, while McGinley pointed out that players who flighted the ball properly in the wind were generally able to hit the green. We’re with McGinley. Let’s not go redesigning iconic golf holes just because some pros can’t hit a decent punch shot.
Level set – After the chaos of Friday and Saturday, Sunday settled the Players Championship down a bit. A few players from the late/early wave—including Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner, and Justin Thomas—have gotten themselves back within striking distance. Remember, there is still A LOT of golf to be played. The weather certainly disadvantaged some players but it didn’t eliminate them.
Haves vs. have-nots – Heading into the final 27 holes on Monday, there are highly ranked pros like Sam Burns (T-4), Daniel Berger (T-7), Cameron Smith (T-7), and Justin Thomas (T-18) in the mix, but they’re outnumbered by unlikely contenders such as Anirban Lahiri (leader), Tom Hoge (T-2), Doug Ghim (T-7), and Joel Dahmen (T-11). We’re mostly rooting for an entertaining finish, but we’d also like to see an unexpected champion this afternoon.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Limited Edition Gold Boy T-Shirts – To commemorate the true hero of the 2022 Players Championship, a friend of The Shotgun Start created a very special Gold Boy design.
A Revelatory Day in the Stadium – Andy Johnson argues that Saturday at the Players Championship showed what’s missing in today’s pro game.
The Unheralded but Excellent Par 5s at TPC Sawgrass – In a YouTube video as well as an article, Garrett Morrison breaks down how the par 5s at TPC Sawgrass still challenge PGA Tour players in the send-it era.
ICYMI – The Fried Egg Podcast: Jerry Pate – Jerry Pate, winner of the first Players Championship held at TPC Sawgrass, talks with Garrett about that week in 1982, his famous jump into the pond left of 18, and more. Listen on iTunes and Spotify.
Nanna Koerstz Madsen shot four rounds of 67 or better at the Honda LPGA Thailand before defeating Xiyu Lin in a playoff to earn her first LPGA Tour victory.
In South Africa, Pablo Larrazábal took down Adri Arnaus and Jordan Smith in a two-hole playoff to win the MyGolfLife Open on the DP World Tour.
World No. 2 Nelly Korda announced on social media that she has been diagnosed with a blood clot and is recovering at home. Let’s hope she gets better quickly and returns to her battle with Jin Young Ko for No. 1 this spring.
After piling up kills on Saturday, the island 17th brought good, clean excitement on Sunday. Shane Lowry’s ace put Ponte Vedra’s Guinness supply on notice, while Patton Kizzire’s cold-hard shank landed closer to the island tree than the island green.
The PGA Tour brought the Players Championship trophy to life this weekend. Called “The Gold Man” on the broadcasts but “Gold Boy” by us, the “mixed-reality” thingamajig recreated Tiger’s “better than most” putt on Sunday. Did anyone ask for this? No! Is it well executed? Absolutely not! Does it perfectly embody the Tour’s clueless desperation to manufacture enthusiasm for its flagship event? Sure! Have we had so much fun mocking it that we now kind of love it? 100%!
On Sunday afternoon, NBC aired an interview Mike Tirico conducted with Tiger Woods before Woods’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It was an illuminating conversation, but Tiger’s bemused reaction to Gold Boy’s reenactment of his big putt was an all-timer.