PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The Players Championship (often called The Players or even TPC by locals) is an annual golf tournament on the PGA Tour.
Originally known as the Tournament Players Championship, the tournament began in 1974. The Players Championship offers the highest prize fund of any PGA Tour event ($12.5 million).
The field usually includes the top 50 golfers in the world rankings, but unlike the three majors which are staged in the United States, it does not count as an official event on the European Tour.
While it is not officially considered one of the four major championships, The Players is often considered to be the "fifth major" by critics and players due to its prestige, the iconic TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course at which the tournament has been played since 1982 and its considerably larger purse in comparison to any other PGA Tour event.
The winner receives $2 million and receives a fixed allocation of 80 points towards his Official World Golf Ranking, which is the most allocated to any event apart from the majors, in which winners earn 100 points. For comparison, the winners of the four individual World Golf Championships generally receive between 70 and 78 points.
The winner also receives a 5-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a three-year invitation to the Masters Tournament, 3-year exemptions for The Open Championship and for the U.S. Open, and an exemption to the PGA Championship later in the year.
The winner gets 600 FedEx Cup points if he is a PGA Tour member.
The field consists of 145 players consisting of the following criteria:
- Winners of PGA Tour events since last Players
- Top 30 from previous season's FedEx Cup
- Top 125 from previous season's money list
- Top 125 from current season - Medical Extension
- Majors champions from the past five years
- Top 50 from the Official World Golf Ranking
- Senior Players champion from prior year
- Web.com Tour money leader from prior regular season (effective in 2014). Previously, the season money leader earned a Players place.
- Money leader during the Web.com Tour Finals, if not the regular-season money leader (effective in 2014)
- Current year FedEx Cup points leaders (top 10 plus alternates from 11th place)
The Players Championship was conceived by the PGA Tour commissioner at the time, Deane Beman. The inaugural event in 1974 was played at Atlanta Country Club in Marietta, Ga. It moved to the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1975 and to Inverrary Country Club in Ft. Lauderdale in 1976.
Beginning in 1977, the event was played at Ponte Vedra Beach, initially at Sawgrass Country Club's Oceanside Course (a combination of the "East" and "West" 9-hole courses). Since 1982, the tournament has been played across the road from Sawgrass Country Club, on the Stadium Course at TPC at Sawgrass.
Following the 2006 event, the course underwent a major renovation, which received very positive reviews from the players in 2007. Included in the renovation was a new 77,000-square-foot Mediterranean Revival-style clubhouse.
For most of its existence, the tournament was played in late March, two weeks before The Masters. In 2007 it was moved to mid-May, as part of a restructuring of the PGA Tour. This restructuring involved the introduction of the lucrative FedEx Cup, which concludes with The Tour Championship.
The change gave the PGA Tour a marquee event in six consecutive months (The Masters in April, The Players in May, the U.S. Open in June, the Open Championship in July, the PGA Championship in August, and the Tour Championship in September).
From 2007 and 2018, the final round of The Players Championship was played on the second Sunday of May, Mother's Day. In 2019, the PGA Tour moved the tournament back to March, which in addition to providing cooler weather, locals hope will increase out-of-town visitors to the event.