One of the biggest tournaments of the year at one of the most famous courses in the world takes place this week -- The Players Championship on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
The Players is the crown jewel of the PGA Tour. The course is a beast, but the beauty about it is it doesn't favor a particular type of golfer. Long hitters have won, short hitters have won, younger players have won, older players have won. Basically, TPC Sawgrass -- as intimidating as it is -- presents the ultimate
level playing field.
Before the tournament teed off, we caught up with TPC Sawgrass PGA Senior Head Golf Professional Matt Borocz for some local knowledge.
PGA.com: Thanks for joining us again, Matt. This is a huge week for the PGA Tour, as its crown jewel -- The Players -- takes place at TPC Sawgrass. What's the vibe like in Ponte Vedra Beach right now?
Borocz: It's been a great vibe for the last several weeks leading into The Players. North Florida has been blessed. Since the last week of January, we have had seasonably warm temperatures. Our Agronomy Team has been working extremely hard to prepare for The Players and execute a successful championship. The past two weeks we have had several special events in the community that have connected to The Players and Giving Back to Charity. The Players has added several new and exciting venues on-course for the spectators to cool off and relax. Spectators may bring their mobile devices to the tournament and stay connected to their family, friends and business. Great momentum leading into The Players week!
PGA.com: What is it that makes TPC Sawgrass such a special place?
Borocz: This year marks the 30th playing of The Players at TPC Sawgrass. In the last 30 years the property has continued to evolve. Every year builds the tradition and reputation of The Players. Personally, I've been watching The Players for 20+ years. I grew up idolizing Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Greg Norman and several other Players Champions. Junior golfers all around the globe watch the tournament to see their favorite players in the world and of course watch how everyone does on the 17th hole. The property and especially the 17th hole is very special for people. We are very fortunate to have thousands of golf fans and non golf fans visit each year. We have our Storytellers, a group of 53 volunteers that give tours of the clubhouse and the 17th hole on a daily basis. During the tournament they share the history of the TPC Network and great moments of The Players. The Storytellers just celebrated their fourth anniversary at TPC Sawgrass. They are now sharing all the great stories and memories that they experience with guests everyday. TPC Sawgrass is a truly special place because of the emotional connection it has with golf fans around the world.
PGA.com: One thing I love about TPC Sawgrass is the diversity of champions. Big hitters like Tiger and Phil have won there, and so have short hitters liked Fred Funk and Tim Clark just last year. TPC Sawgrass is a big course, but what is it about the course that creates such a level playing field?
Borocz: The Players Stadium Course does not favor one player specifically. When Commissioner Beman and Pete Dye built the Stadium Course their goal was to create a golf course that did not favor a particular player or style of play. It is a very balanced golf course. I feel every hole is unique and each hole builds upon the next. It is not an overly long golf course but you have to be very accurate on the approach to the greens. If your successful with greens in regulation you have an opportunity to be rewarded. The key to success on The Players Stadium is patience, consistency, strategy and taking one shot at a time.
PGA.com: The young guns on the PGA Tour have been out in force lately. Which of the younger players are you most looking forward to seeing this week and which one do you think will have the most successful week at TPC Sawgrass?
Borocz: The first four months of the PGA Tour season has been very exciting to watch. There are several young players that have an opportunity this week to be called The Players Champion. As a graduate of Coastal Carolina, I'm slightly bias to Dustin Johnson. I look forward to seeing how he performs this week. I'm also looking forward to seeing Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Johnny Vegas, Nick Watney and all the up and coming players. It's going to be exciting!
PGA.com: Can you draw up a dream scenario for the final round? What does that scenario entail for you?
Borocz: That is difficult question. I think similar to Tim Clark's victory in 2010. There were several players in the mix competing for the championship on Sunday. The finish Tim Clark had last year was a grinding test. With the excellent golf course conditions, firmness of the fairways and greens, and the hot temperatures it's going to be fun to watch. It's always great to have Tiger and Phil in the mix on Sunday! I guarantee it will be an exciting finish come Sunday afternoon.