World's 30 top golfers set for The Players

Tiger Woods watches his shot on the driving range last month during beforethe Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
Tiger Woods watches his shot on the driving range last month during beforethe Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. (AP photo by Darron Cummings)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The best field in golf descends on The Player Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass this week, with all of the top 30 in the FedExCup set to compete.

Headlining the current top 30 is Jordan Spieth, a two-time winner in 2014-15 who became the youngest player to take the lead in the FedExCup standings when he captured the Masters in early April. Two-time winner this season Jimmy Walker is hot on his heels.

Walker led the FedExCup for the majority of the 2013-14 season on the heels of three wins, but was overtaken by Rory McIlroy late in the summer. He regained the top spot early this season with wins at the Sony Open and the Valero Texas Open, a spot which he held until Spieth overtook him in April.

Through the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Spieth holds a 392-point advantage over Walker. The winner at The Players will earn 600 FedExCup points.

A total of 16 players inside the top 30 through the Wells Fargo Championship did not play in last year's Tour Championship.

Established veterans vs. young guns

This season has seen a dichotomy of winners from both the group of established veterans like Bubba Watson (World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions), Jim Furyk (RBC Heritage), Justin Rose (Zurich Classic of New Orleans) and Padraig Harrington (The Honda Classic), as well as the young guns on the PGA TOUR like Jordan Spieth (Masters Tournament, Valspar Championship), Patrick Reed (Hyundai Tournament of Champions), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Brooks Koepka (Waste Management Phoenix Open).

The average age of winners at The Players is just shy of 34 years old, skewing towards experience on a golf course that favors no style of play. The youngest player to win at The Players was Adam Scott in 2004 at the age of 23, and the oldest player to win was Fred Funk the very next year at the age of 48. 

A look at the field

  • All 30 of the top 30 in the current FedExCup standings.
  • All 50 of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking – this is the first time since 2005 that the top 50 in the OWGR will all be playing at THE PLAYERS. This is the second time this has happened on the PGA TOUR this season (World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship), and the fourth time since the start of the 2012 season (2012 Cadillac Championship, 2012 PGA Championship).
  • Multiple winners Jimmy Walker (2) and Jordan Spieth (2) are in the field, and those two are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the FedExCup standings. Spieth won his first career major championship in April, capturing the Masters Tournament in record fashion, tying Tiger Woods' mark of 18-under par and winning by four strokes.
  • All 22 PGA Tour winners in 2014-15 will be at TPC Sawgrass, accounting for a total of 24 victories. Eight of the 22 different winners have been under the age of 30: Sangmoon Bae/Frys.com Open, Ben Martin/Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Robert Streb/The McGladrey Classic, Nick Taylor/Sanderson Farms Championship, Patrick Reed/Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Brooks Koepka/Waste Management Phoenix Open, Jason Day/Farmers Insurance Open, Jordan Spieth/Valspar Championship, Masters Tournament.
  • Nine former Players winners: Martin Kaymer (2014), Tiger Woods (2013, 2001), Matt Kuchar (2012); K.J. Choi (2011); Henrik Stenson (2009); Sergio Garcia (2008); Phil Mickelson (2007); Adam Scott (2004); and Justin Leonard (1998).
  • 27 major championship winners, accounting for 59 major championships, led by Tiger Woods' 14.
  • A total of 18 first-time Players Championship participants.

The 144-player field includes players from a total of 25 countries (the most international field in Players history):

  • 83 USA

The oldest player in the field is Germany's Bernhard Langer, who qualified based on his win at the 2014 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. Langer is making 24th start at The Players and first since 2008, when he finished T15. He has posted a total of five top-10 finishes, including two runner-ups (1993, 1995).

Additional player profiles

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy is making his fifth start at The Players, his best finish coming last year when he shot a final-round 66 on his way to a T6 finish. The year before he also had a strong showing, finishing T8. He began his career at The Players with three missed cuts, but has recorded the two top-10s since.

He has only made four starts this year on the PGA Tour, with his best finish coming at the Masters, where he finished fourth, six shots behind Spieth. He will be looking to improve on his FedExCup rank, as he is currently No. 103 in the standings. McIlroy advanced to the Tour Championship in both 2014 and 2012.

Last season, McIlroy finished his season with a flurry to take over the No. 1 spot in the OWGR, winning the Open Championship, the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship in three consecutive weeks. He had a chance to become the sixth player to complete the career grand slam at the Masters, which he failed to do.

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth moved to the No. 2 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking after a four-week span that saw him win his second PGA Tour title at the Valspar Championship, consecutive runner-ups, and capture his first major at the Masters Tournament.

Winning the Masters at the age of 21 years, 8 months and 16 days, Spieth became the fourth player to win three times with at least one major on the PGA Tour before turning 22 since 1900.

Spieth will make his second consecutive start at The Players after finishing T4 in 2014. In his PLAYERS debut, Spieth entered the final round tied with eventual winner Martin Kaymer. As the only player bogey-free through 54 holes, Spieth bogeyed No. 5, then added four more bogeys to finish in a tie for fourth.

Martin Kaymer

This marks the seventh start for defending champion Martin Kaymer who broke or matched several tournament records en route to his 2014 PLAYERS Championship victory. He opened the tournament with a bogey-free 9-under 63 to tie the low 18-hole score at the tournament and his front-nine 7-under 29 established a new nine-hole scoring record.

Kaymer went on to win the 2014 U.S. Open to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2001 (The Players and Masters) to win The Players the same year as another major.

Kaymer joined Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott as the only four players to have a victory at The Players, a World Golf Championships event (2011 HSBC Champions) and a major (2010 PGA Championship, 2014 U.S. Open).

Kaymer has made six starts this season, with his best showing coming at the HSBC Champions where he tied for sixth. He has missed the cut in his last three starts (Valero Texas Open, Shell Houston Open and Masters Tournament).

Jason Day

Jason Day will make his 10th start of the season, which includes a victory at the Farmers Insurance Open and a pair of T4 finishes at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The 2015 Players Championship will mark Day's fifth start at TPC Sawgrass: 2010/MC, 2011/T6, MC/2012, T19/2013.

Day withdrew from The Players in 2014 due to a lingering left thumb injury.

Jimmy Walker

In 12 starts this season, Jimmy Walker has won twice. He defended his title at the Sony Open in Hawaii, then won in his home state at the Valero Texas Open.

He is making his sixth consecutive start at The Players: 2010/T26, 2011/MC, 2012/T35, 2013/T15, 2014/T6.

Walker closed the 2014 Players Championship with the tournament low final-round of 7-under 65 (matched by K.J. Choi) to tie for sixth.

Tiger Woods

Woods is making just his fourth start of the year. After a missed cut and a WD at the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods took a break from competitive golf in order to get his game in shape and his body healthy. He returned at the Masters Tournament, where he tied for 17th.

The last time Woods played at The Players in 2013, he was victorious, earning his second victory at The Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. He would go on to win five times in 2013, capturing Player of the Year honors.

Qualified for The Players, but not competing due to injury

Stuart Appleby, Tim Clark and Kevin Stadler. Clark and Stadler were replaced in the field by Daniel Berger and Sean O'Hair, based on their position in the current FedExCup standings. The first alternate is Justin Thomas, who is looking to make his first start at The Players.  If someone from the Cadillac Match Play who is not otherwise qualified should win, then O'Hair would be bumped from the field and become the first alternate.