A glance at the record books would confirm that the TPC course at Sawgrass has never been one of Rory McIlroy's favourite venues.

It all starts to unfold Thursday, the final time The Players Championship will be held in May after a 12-year run before returning to the pre-Masters date in March. A tie for sixth in 2014 remains the closest that he has come to adding the so-called fifth major and the $1.98 million (about £1.46 million) first prize to his collection of four major titles. "It's amusing, like I started staying on the beach a few years ago, and that's made the event a lot more enjoyable". "You just have to play this golf course a certain way and be a little bit better than everyone else with your irons and your wedges, and that's usually a good combination around here". "But now it's more like ... if I remained No 2 and won majors, and was No 1 for a long time and won six, I'd take the first one".

Cowen, who has worked with past Players Championship winners and major champions Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia, likes what he sees in Kiradech after starting work with the Thai at the beginning of a year ago. "I've got a few years under my belt and it took me a few years to figure it out, but I've had a few top 10's here".


"If I can put myself in the final group of some other events coming up, then hopefully I'll have some recent experience, and I'll deal with it a bit better [than he did at The Masters]", he said.

Last year, McGirt sat in a tie for second after the first round with a 5-under 67, and then posted a 75 on Friday and Sunday to finish in a tie for 22nd in the tournament.

"There's no way of faking it around this golf course", said Woods, who won his first U.S. Amateur at Sawgrass in 1994.


"So, yeah, it gives you motivation". "That's a golf course you can't fake it around there". We're not even halfway through the season.

But that hardly worries Woods, who, apparently pain-free after a spinal fusion last April, bounded into the media interview room on Tuesday, looking relaxed as he flashed his broad smile to a crowded room."Trust me, I'm fully aware of how special this is for me", he said, recalling that 12 months ago he could barely walk without severe pain, let alone swing a golf club.

Complacency will not be a problem for Day, who has a burning desire to regain his world number one ranking. "I think I've got some demons to exorcise", said a candid Lahiri. "I just didn't have a feel for the golf course, and I just didn't make the adjustments". I just need to hit the back of the ball with a square clubface. He struggled around the greens and if he can get his putter to work, the two-time Players champion could indeed threaten the field.


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