Justin Thomas walked into the locker-room on the TPC Sawgrass identical to has performed for the final seven years, with one interruption in his routine.
His reminiscence advised him to peel off to the appropriate. Then he remembered one of many perks from successful the Gamers Championship final yr, and he went left into the small locker space reserved just for champions.
“A pleasant adjustment that I’ll be capable to make going ahead,” he mentioned.
There are different perks this yr, beginning with the direct deposit into gamers’ accounts on the finish of the week. The premier occasion of the strongest tour in golf now affords the richest purse at US$20-million, with US$3.6-million going to the winner.
The highest three locations pay out seven figures. Somebody can end out of the highest 10 and nonetheless make greater than US$500,000.
What hasn’t modified is the fickle nature of the Gamers Championship. The TPC Sawgrass, whether or not it’s held in March or Might, is understood to not favour anybody specific type of recreation, whether or not it’s energy like Thomas, Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy, or precision like Matt Kuchar or Webb Simpson.
“You have a look at the winners, and it’s loopy,” Thomas mentioned. “It’s actually a spot that I don’t suppose it favours one shot form. … It’s simply whoever decides to exit and get it one of the best that week.”
Thomas has one piece of historical past to beat. Nobody has received again to again within the Gamers Championship, whether or not it was held at Atlanta Nation Membership or Colonial, throughout the road at wind-whipped Sawgrass Nation Membership or the Stadium Course, the place it has been held for the previous 40 years.
Woods and Sergio Garcia went from a runner-up end to victory the next yr, and that’s about as shut because it will get.
Thomas took the recommendation of Alabama coach Nick Saban in approaching the week. He’s not defending something simply because he received.
“I’m simply going to go attempt to win it once more,” he mentioned.
Completely different about this week is that gamers may truly carry an umbrella. In a most uncommon begin to the yr, the PGA Tour has not had any spherical in 4 states throughout 5 time zones interrupted by climate.
Storms are within the forecast for later within the week, with a chilly entrance due on the weekend.
The range has come within the scoring. There have been complaints that scoring was too low on the West Coast Swing. After which Bay Hill was too laborious, with solely 10 gamers ending underneath par.
McIlroy was amongst those that thought the Arnold Palmer Invitational might need gone a bit bit over the sting with its greens so yellow and naked that putts had been gliding greater than rolling. He mentioned it made him really feel as if he was taking part in worse than he was.
Possibly his feedback after the spherical got here within the warmth of the second.
“It wasn’t misconstrued,” McIlroy mentioned. “I used to be positively complaining. Look, it was the identical for everybody – I actually get that. However there was quite a lot of alcoholic drinks being drunk within the locker-room after I went in there on Sunday afternoon by quite a lot of the gamers, so it wasn’t simply me on the market having a tough time.”
The TPC Sawgrass can tough gamers up otherwise, agency or delicate, calm or windy. There’s water in play over the ultimate eight holes, together with extra water than land on the notorious island inexperienced for the par-three seventeenth.
McIlroy missed the minimize one yr, received the subsequent and his subsequent time he missed the minimize once more. Possibly that explains why nobody has repeated as champion. Or perhaps it’s as easy, as Thomas says, that the sector is stronger than some other from high to backside.
Lacking this yr is Bryson DeChambeau with hand and hip accidents he says are nonetheless not at full energy. Harris English is recovering from hip surgical procedure. Kevin Na’s spouse is anticipating their third baby. Phil Mickelson stays on hiatus.
That also leaves 46 of the highest 50 on this planet. And whereas it’s not thought-about a serious championship, it’s changing into no much less essential to the gamers.
Collin Morikawa saved listening to it was an enormous deal when he was rising up, however on the time the panorama of golf to him began with the 4 majors.
“However since I’ve turned professional, I’ve seen it very in another way, and I recognize every thing that’s put into this match as a result of it’s superb,” Morikawa mentioned. “The scope, the panorama of every thing out right here once we present up, it’s all for us – it’s all for the PGA Tour gamers. And that’s why you need to win this match.”