May 9, 2016
Tee times are out for the Players Championship, where Jordan Spieth will find himself alongside the world No. 1 as he looks to rebound from Masters disappointment. Here’s a look at a few marquee, early-round groups to keep an eye on (all times ET):
Willett hasn’t played competitively since his surprise win at the Masters, but he’ll return to action this week as he looks to grow accustomed to the brighter spotlight now pointed in his direction. He’ll play the first two rounds alongside Snedeker, who won earlier this year at Torrey Pines, and Rose, whose third-place finish last week at Quail Hollow came in spite of some poor putting over the weekend.
This group will bring together a trio of former champions, headlined by Mickelson who won here in 2007 and enters off a T-4 finish at Quail Hollow. Stenson, the 2009 winner, missed his first cut in more than two years last week, while Kaymer returns to TPC Sawgrass two years after his dramatic victory that preceded a U.S. Open triumph.
Spieth will be making his first start since the Masters on a course where he held a share of the 54-hole lead in 2014 en route to a T-4 finish. He’ll be joined by Day, who he could pass for the top spot in the world rankings with a big performance at TPC Sawgrass, and Grace, who earned his maiden PGA Tour win last month at Harbour Town.
The reigning Open champ headlines this threesome, as Johnson looks for his first top-10 finish in a stroke-play event since Bay Hill. He’ll be joined by Reed, who was a runner-up in San Antonio last month, and Garcia, a perennial contender on the Stadium Course who won here in 2008 and lost last year in a playoff.
The defending champ will be joined by a pair of former Players champions as he looks to repeat the finish that earned him the trophy a year ago. Scott won twice earlier this year in Florida, while Kuchar is four years removed from his TPC triumph and enters with three top-25 finishes among his last four results.
This grouping is appointment viewing for anyone who loves to watch players bomb it off the tee. McIlroy finished T-4 last week in Charlotte and has cracked the top 10 each of the last two years at TPC Sawgrass, while Watson is playing on the PGA Tour for the first time since the Masters and Johnson looks for his fourth straight top-5 finish after contending in Austin, Houston and Augusta.