Masters champ has Stadium Course in crosshairs
It’s a course for which there are no easy answers.
Old players, young players, long hitters or short, it doesn’t matter. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass and its two challenging finishing holes have been known to eat them all for breakfast in The Players Championship.
Dustin Johnson, at this writing the PGA’s top money winner, has yet to break through with a win on the lush Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., course but he seems to be figuring it out. In the Tour’s unofficial fifth major, his finishes have trended generally upward since his tie for 69th in 2015, with final standings of 28th, 12th, 17th and fifth, which was the last time it was played in 2019.
In that tournament, he played well over 72 holes and even shot a 3-under 69 in the final round, at one point coming within two shots of the lead. But it was not enough as Rory McIlroy, playing what he says was the best golf of his life, managed to hold off Johnson and others with a 2-under 70 to win by a stroke in a thrilling finish.
This year as in others, it’ll be the 17th and 18th holes that will be make-or-break for a lot of players. In particular, the iconic “island hole” at No. 17 has laid waste to many a golfer’s game over the years, as the wind and surrounding water mess with heads, thus resulting in balls in the drink.
Johnson will try not to be among them as he goes for his first win in the 2021 Players Championship, which airs Thursday through Sunday, March 11-14, on Golf Channel and NBC.
Full name: Dustin Hunter Johnson
Birth date: June 22, 1984
Birthplace: Columbia, S.C.
Height/weight: 6 feet, 4 inches/190 pounds
College: Coastal Carolina University
Turned pro: 2007
Honors and achievements: 2020 Masters champion; 2020 FedEx Cup champion; 2016 U.S. Open champion; PGA Tour Player of the Year (2016, 2020); 2016 PGA Tour leading money winner; 24 PGA Tour victories; nine European Tour victories