PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP: Move to March an error? … Corey Conners feels good in the game

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — With the Players Championship heading toward an end Monday (at best) and relentless rain threatening to turn all of TPC Sawgrass into an island, the decision to move the tournament from May to March is at hand. again questioned.

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The PGA Tour’s flagship event was held in March for 30 years before moving to May from 2007 to 2018. In 2019, the tournament returned to March as the tour revamped a number of events on its schedule , including the PGA Championship and the RBC Canadian Open.

The seven finishes from the tournament’s previous Monday also came in March, when Florida weather is more unpredictable. Players Championship head referee Gary Young was not ready to blame the March date for the unfortunate circumstances facing the tournament this year.

“It’s very, very unusual to have this pattern for this extended period at this time of year, looking at historical data on this,” he said. “I would say at this point it’s just bad luck.”

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For the most part the move to March was welcomed by players who feel the earlier date allows the course to be played more as it was designed, target golf on turf soft enough to reward tee shots precise.

When the tournament was moved to 2019, the potential bad weather was taken into account and, in fact, it was considered a feature and not a bug by golf’s greatest champion Jack Nicklaus.

“I think it’s a lot better for the tournament,” Nicklaus said at the time. “Now you bring the weather as an element and the weather is a great element to have in a tournament.”

He is right, the weather is a great element. As long as you can still play a tournament.

TALE OF TWO JOURNEYS

Canadian Corey Conners came into the Players Championship feeling good about his game. After seeing his ball-striking slip slightly over the past month, it was a return to form last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Bay Hill, where he finished T11.

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After shooting a first-round under-70 at TPC Sawgrass, Conners was happy to see his game pick up where it left off, for the most part.

“It’s pretty close,” he said. “I wasn’t as sharp as there.”

The hardest part of trying to bring the same great Bay Hill feel to TPC Sawgrass is that, even though the courses are two hours away from each other, the conditions are so different. It’s like playing golf on another planet.

“Totally different thought process with each shot,” Conners said. “At Bay Hill, you were trying to land it 20, 30, 40 feet from the hole. Here you have to make sure to fly it to the hole because it will fly back. Some of the first round shelves were really hard to reach. It was difficult in terms of hitting the ball.

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CHIP SHOTS

Two days into a major golf tournament, the most interesting things I’ve witnessed wouldn’t have to be Tommy Fleetwood’s mustacheless face, and Viktor Hovland oscillating between speaking his native Norwegian and his English with a Oklahoma accent, but that’s where we are… There are very few courses that I would pay US$800 for (like maybe zero), and TPC Sawgrass wouldn’t be one of them. It’s a great course to watch the best players in the world try to tame, but it’s a vicious test for them, imagine what that would do to us. And with water on 17 holes, what budget would you have for golf balls? … Adam Svensson started the week as a fourth substitute, when all was said and done the Canadian was one point away from being among his first players. Third substitute Michael Thompson (-2 to 12) entered the tournament on Friday morning when Tyler McCumber retired with an injury.

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