Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Star Power on Sunday Couldn't Hurt

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Star Power on Sunday Couldn't Hurt

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette

The beauty of the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course is it's the most democratic layout in golf. It favors no particular type of player, which might explain why only seven of 29 players within five shots of the lead have a top-25 world ranking.

Here at The Players Championship, where stars are just as likely to fade away as get into Sunday contention, the PGA Tour again has a leaderboard starving for big names.

Thankfully, Tiger Woods (68) and Rickie Fowler (69) went on a four-birdie binge midway through Friday's second round to add some much-needed star power to the weekend festivities. While it's nice to have the deepest field in golf, an event with a big-stage feel could always use some headliners to liven things up.

No disrespect to the past three champions - K.J. Choi, Tim Clark and Henrik Stenson. But those journeymen didn't exactly have a murderer's row lineup trying to chase them down on the Sunday back nine.

It's been too long since The Players has given us a memorable duel for the ages among high-profile players. You have to go back to Woods' clinching par at the final hole in 2001, giving him a one-shot victory over then-defending Masters champion Vijay Singh.

Part of the problem is the Stadium Course is so indiscriminate, it doesn't care who it chews up and spits out. Golf's privileged get shown the door quicker here than just about anywhere else.

The last three U.S. Open champions couldn't make it to the weekend. Defending champ and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy is now 0-for-3 at The Players.

Steve Stricker, the world's No. 6 who had made 49 consecutive cuts dating back to the 2009 PGA Championship, missed his eighth cut in 16 appearances at the Stadium Course. Bubba Watson, who has a shaky track record here anyway, might well have joined them had the Masters champion felt compelled to show up. …

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