JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Players Championship begins play a month from Tuesday, and even before the Masters was settled, there were a bushel of storylines heading into the final May installment of the event.
But Patrick Reed's victory at Augusta National added to the storylines in a number of ways.
First, Reed becomes one of the golfers to watch at the TPC Sawgrass. The field, which already includes some of the biggest names in the sport, including world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and 2004 Players Champion Adam Scott, will now be joined by the reigning Masters champion.
Then there is the question of Tiger Woods.
After his final round at the Masters, Woods said he was going to get back into the gym. Does that mean an extended stretch away from tournament play? He has always built his schedule around the majors, and while Woods has enjoyed success at The Players, winning in 2001 and 2013, he has always approached the majors with a different mindset. His showing at the Masters, where he shot 69 on the final round to finish at +1 for the tournament, showed that he still has a lot of work to do to contend in tournaments, like The Players, that feature the top players in the world.
Some other storylines worth following in 2018:
While Phil Mickelson did not become the oldest winner of the Masters, could the two-time Players champion become the second-oldest winner at TPC Sawgrass? Mickelson will be just over a month shy of his 48th birthday during the tournament--he has not yet committed to the field. The only older player to win The Players was Fred Funk, who won in 2005 at the age of 48 years, 9 months, 14 days.
Can Si-Woo Kim repeat as champion? Nobody has ever successfully defended their title at The Players. Kim was an unlikely winner last year when he became the youngest champion of the event at the age of 21.
Will someone become a two-time winner? Jason Day, ranked No. 14 in the world, and Rickie Fowler, currently ranked sixth in the world, figure to be the top candidates to accomplish the feat. Sergio Garcia (No. 10) and Henrick Stenson (No.15) could as well. The only one man to win more than two Players Championships, Jack Nicklaus, won on three different courses, non of which included the Players Stadium Course.