The Players, the negative fact of the Spanish

The TPC has been played since 1974 (Jack Nicklaus won the inaugural edition), and throughout its history, it has had notable Spanish presence

by Andrea Gussoni
The Players, the negative fact of the Spanish
© Getty Images Sport - Francois Nel / Staff

Starting this Thursday at the iconic Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida, the considered fifth Grand Slam, The Players Championship (TPC), kicks off. It's an event rich in prizes (with $25 million, including $4.5 million for the winner), full of history, and boasting a field of players on par with the majors.

The Players, stats

The TPC has been played since 1974 (Jack Nicklaus won the inaugural edition), and throughout its history, it has had notable Spanish presence, first with legends like Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal, followed by Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Gonzalo Fernández Castaño, Rafa Cabrera...

and, of course, with Spain's only champion, Sergio García from Castellón (who won after a playoff in 2008) and the Basque Jon Rahm. However, the emergence of the Arabian Super League (LIV Golf) sidelined García from Borriol, who also boasts two runner-up finishes at Sawgrass, in 2007 (won by Phil Mickelson) and 2015 (won by Rickie Fowler), and as of this year, Rahm as well.

Rahm's best result was a tied 9th in 2021, with the memory of his withdrawal due to gastroenteritis in 2023 before starting his second round. Three weeks later, the Barrika native donned the Green Jacket at the Masters Tournament, his second major victory.

Well, heads up, as José María García would say, this year, for the first time since the 1997 edition of The Players (this would be the 27th), there won't be any Spanish golfers in the powerful field of players in this major tournament.

Extremaduran Jorge Campillo is currently the only Spaniard with playing rights on the PGA Tour, although not full-time. So, this Thursday on the first tee of the spectacular Pete Dye-designed course, there won't be any Spaniards competing.

Of course, world number one Scottie Scheffler, the defending champion (winning by 5 strokes in 2023), will be there, coming off an outstanding performance at the Bay Hill Club in Orlando, especially with his putter, a club that had been somewhat neglected in recent times.

Scheffler has been grouped with Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas (winner in 2021) in one of the featured pairings, alongside Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Viktor Hovland, the Norwegian who, in an impressive late-season rush in 2023, clinched the FedEx Cup.

This is the 50th edition of the event and the 42nd at TPC Sawgrass, which became the venue in 1982. Scheffler is the first defending champion to arrive at TPC as world number one since Rory McIlroy in 2020. McIlroy won in 2019, and the event was ultimately canceled the following year due to the Covid pandemic.

There are 22 players making their debut this week, including Swedish Ludvig Aberg, ranked 10th in the world rankings. Tiger Woods, the champion in 2001 and 2013, is not at Sawgrass. Greg Norman holds the record for the total strokes with 264 (-24), set in 1994.