15/07/2024

The Players Championship 2024: How to watch Scottie Scheffler’s bid to make history at golf’s ‘fifth major’ | CNN [VIDEO]

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Scottie Scheffler tees off in pursuit of history on Thursday, as the American seeks to become the first ever golfer to defend The Players Championship.

CNN  — 

Scottie Scheffler tees off in pursuit of history on Thursday, as the American seeks to become the first ever golfer to defend The Players Championship.

To do so, the world No. 1 will have to outmaneuver 143 others vying for a share of the $25 million purse at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Easing his task will be the absence of world No. 3 Jon Rahm given LIV Golf players are absent from the PGA Tour’s flagship tournament.

Yet while no stars from LIV Golf will be represented in Florida, the presence of the Saudi-backed venture has loomed large over the 50th edition of golf’s ‘fifth major.’

World No. 6 Xander Schauffele took aim at PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Tuesday, insisting he had a “long way to go” to earn the trust of the circuit’s players. Speaking ahead of The Players Championship, Monahan had said long-running reconciliation talks with LIV Golf were “going to take time” but “accelerating.”

How can I watch The Players Championship?

Golf Channel will broadcast the opening two rounds from 1 p.m. ET, with NBC handling weekend coverage – from 2 p.m. ET Saturday and from 1 p.m. ET Sunday.

PGA Tour Live – which includes coverage of featured holes and groups – is available exclusively to those with ESPN+.

Those tuning in from the United Kingdom can watch on Sky Sports Golf, who will be showing coverage of the first two rounds from 11:30 a.m. GMT before coverage of the weekend action begins from 2 p.m. GMT.

Scheffler is the reigning champion after a dominant victory at last year's tournament.

23 countries represented in field

Scheffler spearheads the 144-player field in flawless form, having cruised to his sixth PGA Tour title – and his first since triumph at TPC Sawgrass last year – with a five-stroke victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday.

Leading the charge to stop the American going back-to-back are the remainder of the world’s top-10 ranked players (excluding Rahm), including world No. 2 Rory McIlroy, one of nine previous Players champions teeing up.

There are 23 different countries represented in the field, with the same number of golfers making their debut at the tournament. Among them is Nick Dunlap, who turned professional just four days after winning The American Express in January – a victory that saw him unable to claim the $1.5 million victor’s prize due to his amateur status.

Dunlap was the first of four first-time winners across just nine PGA Tour events this season, quickly followed by Matthieu Pavon, Jake Knapp and Austin Eckroat, who all join the 20-year-old in action this week.

LA QUINTA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 21: Nick Dunlap of the United States reacts to winning The American Express on the 18th green at Pete Dye Stadium Course on January 21, 2024 in La Quinta, California. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

Absentees

There are four players who are eligible to play but won’t feature – chief among them, Tiger Woods.

The 48-year-old said after competing at November’s Hero World Challenge – his first tournament in nearly eight months – that he was targeting one competition at month, but will not compete for his third Players title after not being named on the field list.

The 15-time major winner’s long-awaited return to the PGA Tour at The Genesis Invitational last month was cut short after he withdrew during the event’s second round citing “flu-like symptoms.”

Woods, who has prioritized playing at the majors since suffering serious leg injuries in a 2021 car accident, will now likely target an appearance at The Masters in April.

Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot on the seventh hole during a practice round for The Players Championship on The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on Wednesday, March 13.

The absence of any LIV Golf players means three of the world’s top-50 ranked players are missing; Rahm (3), Tyrrell Hatton (16), and Brooks Koepka (31). Five of the top-10 finishers from the 2022 Players Championship, including victor Cameron Smith, have since joined the Saudi-backed tour.

Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson are all previous champions at TPC Sawgrass that won’t have the chance to repeat their triumphs as a result of their departure from the PGA Tour.

“You’ve got 144 players competing in this championship, and they’re the greatest players in the world, and this is the greatest tour in the world,” Monahan told reporters Wednesday.

“There’s been disruption in our sport, but that is a constant, and we do that week-in and week-out. Strength comes from a number of different factors. It comes from the strength of your membership, and the fact that … we, consistently as an organization, regenerate talent and create stars.”

Rahm is one of the game's biggest stars absent this week.

Scheffler: ‘This is where I want to be’

Scheffler remains determined to concentrate on the future of his own tour.

“If guys want to go take the money and leave, then that’s their decision. I’m not going to sit here and tell guys not to take hundreds of millions of dollars,” Scheffler said.

“If that’s what they think is best for their life, then go do it. I’m not going to sit here and force guys to stay on our Tour. But at the end of the day, this is where I want to be, and we’re continuing to grow what we’re doing, and what they’re doing is not really a concern to me.

“We had a Tour. We were all together, and the people that left are no longer here. At the end of the day, that’s where the splintering comes from.”

Asked why he thinks nobody has been able to defend their crown at The Players, Scheffler said: “I think it’s just the nature of the course, it doesn’t really suit one type of player.

“A genius design where you have to hit all different kinds of shots, and it tests you in a lot of different ways. That’s why I think it’s one of the best places we play on Tour, just because it really doesn’t suit one type of player.”

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