New wife, new clubs, new golf ball.
Rory McIlroy has even lost some weight.
The reigning FedEx Cup champion and world No. 2 comes into The Players Championship off a five-week break since the Masters. During that time, he got married to his wife, Erica, and worked the Taylor Made TP5x ball into his bag, along with the driver and fairway woods he began using at Augusta National.
McIlroy has added Taylor Made wedges and a 1-iron. His deal with Taylor Made was for a reported $10 million.
"It seems like with everything that's went on the last few weeks with getting married and teaming up with Taylor Made ... it seems like everything's very settled," McIlroy said. "There's not many question marks going on in my life right now. I feel like everything's exactly where it's meant to be, and if you feel like that off the golf course, then I can only imagine that it will help you on it."
McIlroy should have good feelings on the Stadium Course sat TPC Sawgrass this week. He's the only player in the field to have finished 12th or better in each of the last four years, a streak that includes three top 10s.
After missing his first three cuts in The Players and failing to break par in six rounds, McIlroy has been in red numbers in 11 of 16 rounds, with a 64 in the second round last year.
McIlroy's tie for seventh at the Masters was his fourth top-10 in five starts this season.
"I feel like my game's in good shape," McIlroy said. "I feel really good coming into this event."
Greens watered as needed
Despite the fact that players are raving about the course conditions, some have expressed concern about already firm greens getting out of hand if the weather gets too hot and dry.
Tournament director Mark Russell wanted to allay those fears by pointing out one of the tools TPC Sawgrass superintendent Jeff Plotts has: meters that measure the degree of moisture in the greens.
"We're in a drought here in Northeast Florida, and we'll have to water the greens some," Russell said. "Mostly, we'll be hand-watering. But we have the moisture meters, which can tell us exactly where a green needs water and where it doesn't."
Russell said the tee on the par-4 12th hole will likely be in a spot that will enable players to go for the green off the tee, if they choose, all four rounds.
"No. 12 was set up for that," he said. "They'll be able to take a cut at it."
Russell also said he's anticipating greens that have been modified or enlarged to allow for new hole placements. Those greens are at hole Nos. 1, 4, 8, 11, 13 and 14.
"We can put a front-right pin at No. 14, we have a couple of new spots on the first and fourth holes ... we're looking forward to it."
Andy Pazder, the Tour's chief of operations, said the nearly flawless weather forecast will enable the rules staff to have their way with pin positions.
"The objective every week is to find four challenging hole locations, taking into account weather conditions," he said. "To have the consistency from a firmness standpoint, from a speed standpoint, allows our officials to think with laser-like focus on what are the four best hole locations on those greens."
Day's mom back home
Try as he might, Jason Day couldn't keep his mother, Dening, in Columbus, Ohio, where she underwent surgery in late March to successfully remove a 3.5-centimeter tumor from her lung.
She's back in Australia and back at her job, in the shipping department of an import/export company.
"She wanted to get back home to work," said Day. "She just doesn't stop. It's unreal."
Day said the doctors at the Ohio State University James Cancer Center, near his residence at Muirfield Village, want to test her every two months. But he may have to find doctors to do it in Australia.
"They want her back here, so I'm trying to get her back," Day said. "She doesn't want to come back. She's a very stubborn lady, as you can imagine. We're trying to find the resources back home so she doesn't have to do the traveling."
Casey supporting UNICEF
Paul Casey of England announced that he is pledging $100 for every birdie he makes in tournaments for the rest of the year to UNICEF, the UN charity that provides health care, immunizations, food, education and emergency services for children in more than 190 countries.
In addition, Casey has a UNICEF brand on the golf bag he will use this week at The Players. Anyone who donates $50 or more to UNICEF by visiting pledgeit.org/paulcasey will be entered in a raffle to win the game.
"As a new family, my wife and I are experiencing all the joys of parenthood," Casey said. "We want the same things for our child as for children all over the world."
Eagles for Ronald McDonald rooms
Morgan Stanley, one of the three presenting partners of The Players Championship, will donated $5,000 for every eagle in The Players, up to $250,000, to the Ronald McDonald Family Room.
There were 48 eagles in last year's tournament. If matched, Morgan Stanley would donated $240,000.
This article is written by Garry Smits from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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