• Grouped with Jordan Spieth and Jason Day for opening rounds
• Tiger Woods playing his first tournament since Masters return
THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
World No.1 Rory McIlroy will be out to try and claim his first title at the Players Championship, a week after securing his tenth PGA Tour win at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play.
The 26-year-old will be competing at TPC Sawgrass for the sixth time in his career with consecutive top tens in the past two years, which followed missed cuts in his first three visits.
McIlroy dismissed any suggestions that he’d be fatigued for the Players when speaking after the five-day Match Play tournament – where he beat Gary Woodland 4&2 in the final – and being put in a mouthwatering group with Masters champion Jordan Spieth and Jason Day is likely to perk him up if so.
Of the world’s top 100, 77 will be at Sawgrass for a tournament that boasts the joint-largest prize fund in golf, including two-time champion Tiger Woods, who plays for the first time since returning to competitive action at the Masters four weeks ago.
Other past winners in the field include Martin Kaymer, Matt Kuchar, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson, with the latter skipping the Match Play in San Francisco last week because of personal reasons.
As far as the Scottish contingent is concerned, Stephen Gallacher will be desperate to put in a better showing than he did last week, where he lost all of his group matches, while Russell Knox will be looking for the same form which saw him finish third at the Honda Classic in March.
Selected group (local times)
8.39am – Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day
This one speaks for itself. World No.1 McIlroy comes to Sawgrass on the back of his tenth PGA Tour victory at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play last week while the golfing world is still coming to terms with Spieth’s remarkable wire-to-wire victory at the Masters four weeks ago. They’re joined by Day, who will be looking to bounce back after losing all three of his group matches in San Francisco last week.
1.17pm – Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson
Runner-up at the Masters followed by a win at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans two weeks ago, it’s fair to say world No.6 Rose is in fine form. He’s joined by the Johnsons for his opening two rounds, with Dustin showing good form including a win at Doral since his return this season, while Zach has four top tens in the 12 events he’s played so far.
1.49pm – Martin Kaymer, Adam Scott, Tiger Woods
All three of these past champions need strong performances to kick-start their seasons, with last year’s winner Kaymer missing the cut in his three strokeplay events prior to the Players. Scott finished T4 at Doral two months ago but has since been caught in limbo with his putter and finished a lowly T38 at Augusta, while Woods will be hoping to build on his T17 finish at the Masters.
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