One of the strongest fields in golf descends on TPC Sawgrass this week where Rory McIlroy is joined by the next two best players in the world for the opening two rounds of the Players Championship, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
All eyes will be on McIlroy, who notched up his 100th week in total as the planet’s best player, who will be out to defend his title following his impressive one-shot victory over Jim Furyk last year. The victory 12 months ago sent the Northern Irishman on his way for a big year on the PGA Tour, where he ultimately won the FedEx Cup before moving top of the world rankings.
McIlroy will be in a headline group for the first two rounds after being paired with former world No 1 Brooks Koepka and last year’s Race to Dubai winner Jon Rahm.
In another attention-grabbing group, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth will play together on Thursday and Friday in what promises to be a great battle between three of America’s best young talents.
Dustin Johnson has been grouped with Phil Mickelson and Webb Simpson in another local battle worth keeping an eye on in the first two rounds.
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen will start the competition alongside Sung Kang and Jim Herman, while Christiaan Bezuidenhout has been paired with Kyoung-Hoon Lee and Adam Hadwin.
Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen will also be in action this week and will be hitting the ground running with Talor Gooch and Sam Ryder from Thursday.
The full list of groupings: THE PLAYERS Groupings and Tee Times