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Island Records: TPC Sawgrass’ Greatest Hits

Biggest Moments in The Players Championship History

The Players Championship is arguably the most exciting golf tournament and it’s happening again this week.

Our golf predictions expect a compact leaderboard, so we could see another close finish, which has happened a lot throughout history.

Rickie Fowler of The United States plays his third shot on the 16th hole
Rickie Fowler of The United States plays his third shot on the 16th hole - David Cannon/ Getty Images via afp

We look at the best wins from TPC Sawgrass on the eve of the unofficial fifth major.

1. Pretty Rickie Wins in Playoff

The 2015 Players Championship came down to the wire with a three-man playoff between Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner.

Former champion Garcia looked to have it in control, but some mistakes down the stretch saw the Spaniard get reeled in. However, victory looked out of reach for Fowler, who was five shots behind with six holes to play.

The flashy American defied history and golf odds to claw his way into the playoff with four birdies and an eagle on his last six holes. It was an incredible finish, especially when stiffing it on the island green at 17 during the playoff.

It’s the biggest win in Fowler’s career. He hasn’t reached the same level since, but Garcia would go on to win the Masters in 2017.

2. Woods Complete Tiger Slam

Tiger Woods held all four majors and The Players in 2000-2001, which was a sight to behold.

The 2001 Players was his first win in the tournament after holding off the always-tough Vijay Singh by one stroke.

Woods, who had been cleaning up the opposition throughout the year, was at short odds with the sportsbook to win. He was coming off a win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, so that was a good form guide for the week.

Woods was the first player to win The Players and Masters in the same year, so it was a historical win at TPC Sawgrass during the glory days of professional golf.

Online sports betting markets typically had Woods around +150 to win tournaments, which is incredibly short for a golfer.

3. Aussie Elk Kills Them

Steve Elkington of Australia watches his tee shot on the 14th hole
Steve Elkington of Australia watches his tee shot on the 14th hole – Stuart Franklin/Getty Images/afp

Australian Steve Elkington is one of the more underrated golfers in the 1990s, but his win at the 1997 Players is one of the best in history.

Elkington scored a record seven-stroke victory with an all-the-way win. He started with a –6 round before adding to his lead before the final round.

He entered Sunday at –13 before extending his score to -16, seven shots in front of Scott Hoch.

Featuring in the field was a young Woods, who finished T31 before he would win the 1997 Masters by a record margin.

It was Elkington’s second Players win, having scored in 1991. Golf news was rampant with the ease of his victory, which put him back on the map.

He wasn’t able to defend his title in 1998 after picking up a sinus infection, making him the third Australian player to ever pull out of the tournament, including Adam Scott and LIV defector Cameron Smith.

“He’s one of our champions and history speaks for itself,” said Players executive director Jared Rice, when referring to Smith’s 2023 absence. “The play of all of our past champions speaks for itself. But 2023 is about the players who will be here. We have our eyes forward on the product, which is the best field in golf again.”

4. The Golden Bear Treble

Jack Nicklaus won in 1974, 1976 and 1978. He scored totals of -16 and -19 in his first two wins before shooting +1 to win in 1978.

The contrasting wins made for an excellent story. Conditions were tough in 1978, which saw the G.O.A.T contender hold off Lou Graham by one stroke.

The windy final round made for excellent viewing, but it was much less enjoyable for the players. Both Nicklaus and Graham shot +3 in the final round, which allowed many players back into the tournament.

However, it was the Golden Bear who held them all off to secure his third and final title.

He won $300,000 for the win, which equates to about $1.3 million. The 2023 winner gets $4.5 million, but without players like Nicklaus, the popularity of golf wouldn’t be nearly as high.

Betting online has also boosted popularity, but one thing is for sure: His Players Championship treble will forever be etched in history.

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