2011 Players Championship Round 1 Links

Full Coverage from GolfChannel.com


Round 1 Tee Times

Shot Tracker

Featured Group: Bubba Watson, Luke Donald, Mark Wilson

PGATour.com Expert Picks:

GolfChannel.com Expert Picks:

My "Expert" Picks:

1. Hunter Mahan
2. Steve Marino
3. Phil Mickelson
4. Matt Kuchar
5. Luke Donald

One can call The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass many things, but unspectacular is not one of them. The charm of this tournament is partially due to the discussion of whether or not it should be the fifth major, but mostly because of how beautiful and unique the golf course is.

When I bought EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour golf for the first time back in 2006, I did so in part because I was moving home for the summer in college and couldn't play it on my roommates Playstation 2 anymore, but also because I wanted to play TPC Sawgrass.

After honing my skills for a few months, it was time to pack up and move back to Akron for my sophomore semester. I was moving into my first apartment with my best friend, knowing full well it would be the funnest time of my life. Part of the excitement was because I knew there would be some epic Tiger Woods battles in my future.

After everything was unpacked, I got a challenge from my roommate Pat in the form of a simple, one word question... "Tiger?" I nodded my head, got the case of beer out of the fridge and it was time to roll.

We didn't even have to debate what course to play, and it wasn't even mentioned. We loaded up our custom made players and got ready to tee off on the first tee of TPC Sawgrass.

Before the first shot was even hit, Pat said to me, "I can't wait to get to 17."

Fitting. I can't give you the hole-by-hole summary of how the match unfolded, but one moment (hazily) still stands out above any other. I was down one heading into to No. 17 after I had used my "Gamebreaker" to hole a shot from the fairway on 16. For those who don't remember, if you built up enough good shots, your "Gamebreaker" would fill up, allowing you make virtually any shot, from anywhere.

Little did I know, Pat had been saving his Gamebreaker for a few holes and when we finally got 17, I noticed he had a huge smile on his face.

"I'm about to Ace No. 17 and it's going to be beautiful," he said. All I could think about was the fact that I was about to lose because there was little chance he would screw up enough for me to surmount a two-stroke deficit.

The round ended, and I lost by 1 because Pat had "tamed" No. 17. Which led to the following exchange:

Pat: That's the best course on a video game ever.
Me: Yep
Pat: Again?
Me: Yep
Pat: Beer me. 


We must have played four straight rounds on TPC Sawgrass that night. Which is what makes watching the tournament live so compelling. I know the course, because I've conquered it in a video game and to see real people doing it in real life is a treat.