The Players Championship (often styled as THE PLAYERS Championship or The PLAYERS) is an annual golf tournament on the PGA Tour.
Originally known as the Tournament Players Championship, the inaugural event in 1974 was played at Atlanta Country Club in Marietta, Georgia before moving to the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas in 1975 and Inverrary Country Club in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 1976. Beginning in 1977, the event relocated to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, first being played at Sawgrass Country Club’s Oceanside Course (a combination of the “East” and “West” 9-hole courses). Since 1982 it has been played across the road from Sawgrass Country Club, on the Stadium Course at the “Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass” (usually referred to as the TPC at Sawgrass). It is not uncommon for “TPC” in this context to be conflated with “The Players Championship” because they happen to have the same initials – in fact, this confusion was the reason why the tournament’s original name was shortened to just “Players Championship” prior to the 1988 event, although some confusion between the two still persists occasionally.
The Players Championship offers the highest prize fund of any tournament in golf ($8 million 2004–06, $9 million in 2007, $9.5 million in 2008), and is sometimes referred to as the “Fifth Major,” but it does not have official major status. The field usually includes the top 50 golfers in the world rankings, but unlike the three majors which are staged in the United States, it does not count as an official event on the European Tour. The winner receives a fixed allocation of 80 points towards his Official World Golf Ranking, which is the most allocated to any event apart from the majors, in which winners earn 100 points. For comparison, the winners of the three individual World Golf Championships held during the PGA Tour regular season generally receive between 70 and 78 points. The Players Championship also receives a 5-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a three-year invitation to the Masters Tournament, three-year exemptions for The Open Championship and for the U.S. Open, and an exemption to the PGA Championship for that year.
The Players Championship can be further distinguished from the “Majors” in that it is owned and administered by the PGA Tour. In contrast, The Masters is owned by the Augusta National Golf Club; the U.S. Open by the United States Golf Association (USGA); The Open Championship by The R&A, an offshoot of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews; and the PGA Championship by the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America).
Chicago Golf Guy 2 Cents: The PGA Tour has pushed for this to be the top event on the PGA Tour and ultimately golf’s 5th Major event. I have always thought that the Players was fun, but not on the same level as the US Open or the Masters, or even the PGA Championship (which I think we all agree #4 out of the Major’s). However, with an extremely strong field, the highest prize pool, and the high world golf ranking points, plus the theatrics on the three closing holes: I do believe that The Players Championship is the top golf tournament outside the Major’s. Which I guess by default would rank it 5th overall for top golf tournaments, but its still not a Major.