Sunday, 20 May, 2018

The Players Championship 2018: Preview, predictions and picks

Rickie Fowler hits a hole-in-one on the 17th during practice at Sawgrass ahead of the 2017 Players Championship Rickie Fowler hits a hole-in-one on the 17th during practice at Sawgrass ahead of the 2017 Players Championship
Domingo Copeland | 10 May, 2018, 14:30

A glance at the record books would confirm that the TPC course at Sawgrass has never been one of Rory McIlroy's favourite venues.

"I nearly won it, and so I just kind of assumed that it would come easy to me", the three-time major champion said Tuesday ahead of Thursday's start of the 45th Players Championship.

"I started staying at the beach a few years ago and that's made the event more enjoyable", said McIlroy, who has made three top-10 finishes here in the past five years.

"It was disappointing I didn't get the result I wanted but I took a lot of positives from the fact that I didn't have my best stuff at Augusta and I was still able to play my way into the final group and contend".

"I learned to play the golf course a little bit better and reined myself in on some tee shots, and that's what's brought me a little bit of success here". "And he said, '43 has a great ring to it.' I just thought that was one of the coolest things that that came from that, and one of the most memorable".

Jason Day reasserted his credentials with a nerveless effort on the final stretch of the Wells Fargo Championship, collecting his second title this year. I've got a few years under my belt, and it took me a few years to figure it out, but I've had a few top-10s here and I haven't been quite right in contention but I've been close enough.

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"If I can put myself in the final group of some other events coming up, then hopefully I'll have some recent experience, and I'll deal with it a bit better [than he did at The Masters]", he said. In just his second appearance at TPC Sawgrass, South Korea's Si Woo Kim overcame a two-shot deficit on Sunday with a final-round 69 to become the youngest victor in tournament history at 21 years of age. "All we can do with anybody's golf swing is narrow the deviation and avoid the big misses and ensure the swing path is a lot more neutral and then you can use your body to shape the shots".

However he posted top-10 finishes in 2014, 2015 and 2016 before a distant share of 35th last season, when he was battling a rib injury.

McIlroy failed to capitalise on a strong position heading into the final round at Augusta last month, slipping out of contention with a 74 that left him six shots adrift of eventual victor Patrick Reed. "We have got the other three major championships".

"It gives you motivation". We're not even halfway through the season.

'I [previously] stayed on property at the hotel and felt that I couldn't get away from it. "I think I've got some demons to exorcise", said a candid Lahiri. "I haven't seen the new changes yet, so looking forward to seeing a few of those little tweaks, and just looking forward to playing in The Players Championship again".

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.

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