With one week to go until the strongest field in golf reconvenes at TPC Sawgrass, THE PLAYERS Championship sets the stage for the 2023 championship by profiling three of the biggest names in the sport who are among the favorites to create their Defining Moment on their way to hoisting THE PLAYERS Championship trophy.
The 2019 PLAYERS Champion and reigning FedExCup Champion began the new season the same way he ended the last one – lifting a trophy. McIlroy successfully defended his title at THE CJ CUP in South Carolina in October to reclaim World No. 1 and become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2008 to win in his season debut after claiming the FedExCup. Now World No. 3 with the top spot having changed hands in recent weeks, McIlroy returns to a comfortable venue in TPC Sawgrass where he won in the event’s return to March in 2019. The Defining Moment that day for the 23-time PGA TOUR winner came at the 15th hole, where after a drive that landed in the fairway bunker, McIlroy blasted his approach to 13 feet to set up an unlikely birdie.
With a PGA TOUR-high four victories during the 2022-23 season, Scottie Scheffler’s breakthrough performance in his third full season on TOUR earned him PGA TOUR Player of the Year honors. Through six starts this season, Scheffler is already producing an impressive encore, totaling four top-10s and a successful title defense at the WM Phoenix Open, where he momentarily recaptured World No. 1. At THE PLAYERS, the native Texan is still in search of his first solid showing, missing the cut in his debut in 2021 (was in the field for the canceled 2020 event) and posting a T55 in 2022.
Having emerged as one of the top players in the game the past two years, Collin Morikawa is in search of his first TOUR win since the 2021 Open Championship and will look to use his ball-striking prowess to add THE PLAYERS Championship to his list of prestigious titles. The Californian’s performance so far in 2023 suggests he is trending positively toward Pete Dye’s Stadium Course, with top-10 results in three of his four stars highlighted by a runner-up at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. In two previous starts at THE PLAYERS, Morikawa has only managed a T41, but closed with a 66 in 2022 to take some momentum into TPC Sawgrass this time around.