#THEPLAYERSFBF - 1978, Jack Nicklaus
The distinct challenges that THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass presents for THE PLAYERS Championship are all-conquering; every error seems to be punished tenfold. Since its inception in 1974, THE PLAYERS Championship has been the flagship tournament on the PGA Tour’s calendar. The perks; 600 FedExCup points, equal to the four major championships, a similar amount of Official World Golf Ranking points to the majors and a five-year exemption on the PGA TOUR. A prize fund of $10.5 million for 2016 - the highest prize fund of any tournament in golf - was further endorsed by the sheer level of competition in the field. To categorize such a prize, the $1.89 million winner’s fund usurps that of Arnold Palmer’s entire career earnings.
For PGA TOUR players, this is an event that is ear-marked from the beginning of the season. Over the last twenty years or so, the event has grown both in stature and as a spectator experience. THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass tests every aspect of a players’ game. The hole, often referred to as the “Island Green” is the course’s signature hole, and one of the most iconic and recognizable holes in the world.
The “Fifth Major” as it is so often referred to, is the PGA TOUR’s major. It brings the best of the best out, but also presents a course which can crucify you in a heartbeat (see; Bob Tway’s third round 12 on 17 in 2005). Patience really is a virtue here.
“It’s one of the toughest courses we play all year,” said 2015 champion Rickie Fowler. “Probably the toughest field that we play all year. So, I mean, whoever is winning is taking care of business, beating the best players at the time and conquering one of the toughest courses that we play.”
From its inauguration in 1974, THE PLAYERS has seen it all. From Greg Norman’s wizardry in 1994, where he shot a course record 264, to Steve Lowery finding dry land on 17th in 1998, only for a seagull to take it upon himself to dunk it into the lake, the history of this prestigious event is illustrious.
Each Friday for the next 42 weeks, QuintEvents, in association with THE PLAYERS, will recount the story of each of the previous 42 winners. Beginning with Jack Nicklaus’ maiden victory at the Atlanta Country Club right up to Jason Day's triumph in 2016, we'll tell their tales of success leading us all the way up to 2017’s event!
Jack Nicklaus, 1978
1978 followed an almost continuing trend. It was Sawgrass again, and for the third time in five years, it was Jack Nicklaus. That being said, this was not your vintage Nicklaus. The Golden Bear went the final 18 holes without making a single birdie for a three-over-par 75. As Sports Illustrated famously put at the time, “It may be written that Jack won his third TPC by playing two-over-par for the last seven holes. Compared to Jack’s birdie barrage at Inverrary, it was about as thrilling as an insurance symposium, but Sawgrass does that.”
Perspective is everything, and when you dissect the numbers, just one player, Mike McCullough, broke 70 all week. Nicklaus and Ben Crenshaw were neck and neck with identical rounds of 70 and 71 after Friday. The standout hole for Nicklaus, and ultimately telling came on Saturday when salvaging a bogey on the par-4 16th. Nicklaus somehow managed to butcher his ball out of a jungle of rough after a wayward tee shot on his third attempt. Within 20 feet on the green, Nicklaus naturally slotted the ball home for a bogey 5. In the end, just one stroke separated him and Lou Graham. A bogey to win at Sawgrass seemed rather apt.
The 2017 PLAYERS® Championship
Beginning May 9, 2017, THE PLAYERS Championship is the PGA TOUR’s most anticipated tournament and coveted title. Held at TPC Sawgrass, the “Stadium Course” gives fans and unprecedented experience with on-site access you simply will not get anywhere else.
Watch the world’s best players battle it out at the purest test in golf. By choosing THE PLAYERS Club, you’ll have access to the practice and tournament rounds of your choosing on individual days or for the full week. You’ll also be granted private access to the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse, as well as private suites overlooking the 18th Green and signature 17th Tee!