Sign up for our daily newsletter

Latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion, plus unmissable deals for bunkered subscriptions, events, and our commercial partners.

The PLAYERS Championship’s field will be without five past champions this week because of their LIV Golf defections. 

Cameron Smith, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer have all lifted the title at TPC Sawgrass, but are ineligible for the flagship tournament with indefinite PGA Tour bans.

Other star names on the Saudi-funded LIV league like Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Joaquin Niemann are also missing from a field that has long been billed as “the best in golf.”

That tagline has come under question this week in the second renewal of the showpiece without LIV players.

• TPC Sawgrass: The hole-by-hole guide

• The Players: Round 1 tee times in full

But Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a vehement critic of the LIV series, does not feel that the event previously described as ‘the fifth major’ is diminished without the best performing players on the rival tour.

“I look at the prestige of this event, the fact that some of the best players in the world are not here – it’s a mild disappointment,” he said. “I love watching those guys play golf [Smith and Rahm], but they decided to play on another tour. This tour is meant to celebrate the best of the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

“The players that are going to LIV have been courted away not with prestige but with greed. Prestige comes to an event, not just because of the money, it comes because of the gauntlet, the course, the tour they play on.

“I look at this event as somewhat of a reward for supporting the PGA Tour in its foundation of philanthropy. That’s what the PGA Tour has always been about. This is meant to be a reward for being a player on the PGA Tour and being one of the best players on the DP World Tour.

• The Players Championship 2024: Preview, betting tips & how to watch

• David Duval: In my mind, I’m a two-time major champ. No question.

When quizzed further by Golf Channel anchor Rich Lerner on the event’s ‘fifth major’ moniker, Chamblee replied: “But Rich, you’re talking about a moment in time, which is all LIV, is, it’s a moment in time. I would say it’s temporary.

He added: “The PGA Tour has a feeder system, a direct line to creating stars, and just this year we’ve began to create new stars. In five more years the stars that are now, well most of them won’t be at the top of the game.

“The fact that LIV has bought a few players, it’s a place in time. Those players will not have that game in three or four more years. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour will carry on developing superstars.”

The 50th edition of The PLAYERS gets under way on Thursday.

author headshot

Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

More Reads

Image Turnberry green

The bunkered Golf Course Guide - Scotland

Now, with bunkered, you can discover the golf courses Scotland has to offer. Trust us, you will not be disappointed.

Find Courses

Latest podcast

The 2024 Masters Commute – Final Round Recap LIVE from Augusta