PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — By now, players are used to the different vibe when Tiger Woods isn’t around.
Woods missed the last two majors in 2008 and the middle two majors in 2011 because of injuries. With back problems this year, he missed his title defense at Bay Hill and missed the Masters for the first time in his career. The Players Championship is the second title defense that Woods is missing as he recovers from surgery.
“There’s no doubt he plays a huge impact on the feel of a golf tournament,” Adam Scott said. “He is obviously the No. 1 player in the world and one of sport’s biggest people in the world. So the attention he draws is massive, from gallery to media. So it’s obvious when he’s not around, I think.”
Does that mean it’s easier to win?
That hasn’t been the case this year. Of the top 10 players in the world, only Masters champion Bubba Watson (No. 4), Matt Kuchar (No. 5) and Jason Day (No. 6) have won tournaments.
“I think that there are so many guys winning events now that you’ve got to look past just No. 1,” Scott said. “He won five times last year and that’s a lot, so obviously in a way it’s one contender that you don’t have to deal with. But the list is long here this week and other guys are going to play great.
“I don’t see it as being as simple as the field versus Tiger.”
MASTERS REVIEW: A pair of Masters rookies played in the same group and got far different results. Patrick Reed missed the cut, while Jordan Spieth had a share of the 54-hole lead and tied for second behind Bubba Watson.
The difference? Reed said Spieth did a better job preparing.
“I hit the ball – I felt like – closer than him all week,” Reed said. “The problem is I was leaving myself above the hole, he was leaving himself below the hole. The first time I played that golf course was Saturday before Augusta. I’ve played it three times as an amateur in college, but every time I played was like in February. It was a completely different golf course and I felt like it was just one of those things I needed to prepare myself better on my note-taking on the golf course.
“I know what to do now.”
Reed is a newcomer to The Players Championship. He said he received a lot of advice when he was home last week from Lee Trevino, who encouraged him to play to the right angles because of the multiple doglegs.
“That’s just one of those things I’ve gotten focused on, and hopefully at the end of the week it works out,” he said.
ANCHORS AWAY: Adam Scott is not worried about ban on anchored strokes, such as the one he uses for his long putter. That takes effects on Jan. 1, 2016, still some 18 months away.
“I’m treating it as not a big deal to me,” Scott said. “I think I can figure out a pretty good solution. There are a lot of options available, and I think I can pick one up pretty quickly, just like I picked up the long putter and anchored it. It didn’t take me long. It wasn’t a big transition. So I think I can go to some modified style or a shorter putter or something and be OK. I’ll do it at the end of next year.”
CADDIES ON 17: With one swing, the caddie for Shawn Stefani got a great parking spot at The Players Championship.
Chris Callas won the annual competition Wednesday of caddies hitting to the island green on the par-3 17th at the TPC Sawgrass. The winning shot was 7 feet, 8 inches from the cup. Of the 111 attempts, 51 balls found the water.
The competition honors the memory of Bruce Edwards, the longtime caddie for Tom Watson who died in 2004 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Players contribute to the prize fund. To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Edwards’ death, the tour matched the prize fund and donated that to the Bruce Edwards Foundation.
Along with the cash – the sum was not disclosed – Callas receives a VIP parking spot in the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse lot on Thursday through Sunday.
SAWGRASS MEMORIES: Jordan Spieth is among the 15 newcomers to The Players Championship, though he’s no stranger to the TPC Sawgrass.
Only four years ago, Spieth thought he had a chance to win an American Junior Golf Association event until Michael Johnson holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to beat Spieth and Emiliano Grillo by one shot.
Spieth mainly remembers the challenge.
“What really sticks in my mind is the final round, we were able to play those last few holes with the Sunday pins, especially 17,” he said Wednesday. “I remember making birdie on 17. I needed to go at the flag, and whether I needed to or not back then, I was going to. So I did. There was a couple of us in my group that made birdie on 17 to that pin, which is pretty cool.”
GOING FOR NO. 1: Four players have a chance to reach No. 1 at The Players Championship – Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar.
That doesn’t happen very often.
Only two players have reached No. 1 after The Players – Nick Faldo in 1992 after he tied for second behind Davis Love III, and David Duval after he won in 1999.