While not an official major, The Players Championship at Sawgrass is a fixture of the golfing calendar, and frequently offers some of the finest golf that the year has to offer. This year’s was no exception, offering fans a number of memorable moments sure to give the 2017 championship a well-deserved place in the history books. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourites. Read on to find out what you missed.
Rafa Cabrera Bello’s history-making albatross
As Si Woo Kim built on an already strong stroke and roared ahead with what would become a 10-stroke lead on the final day of the Players Championship, many pundits were already declaring it one of the more tepid days of golf in recent memory. That was until Rafa Cabrera Bello returned to add a little bit of colour to the fourth round.
True to his reputation as an entertaining – but still highly technically proficient player – Cabrera Bello cemented a place in history, becoming the first to ever net an albatross on the par-5 16th, and the third overall in Players history. Approaching from 181 yards with an 8-iron, the Spaniard sunk the ball after bouncing it off a mound, before cleanly landing in the cup. Looking briefly confused and turning to officials for confirmation, Cabrera Bello celebrated in typically ecstatic style, throwing his hands – and club – into the air, the latter of which later had to be retrieved from the adjacent lake. It was the beginning of a fiery last stand for the Spaniard, who went on to notch a birdie on the 17th then a par on the 18th that was described as miraculous after his tee-shot found only water.
Sergio Garcia’s majestic hole in one
You’d struggle to find a more iconic, more hotly debated hole in golf than the Island Green at the TPC at Sawgrass. A positively diminutive par-3, 137-yard hole, the 17th has been where some of the best remembered and most dramatic moments in the tournament’s history and in golf have played out.
Fresh from a very convincing win at the 2017 US Masters, Sergio Garcia had struggled to find relevance in the first two rounds at TPC at Sawgrass, putting four-over-par for his first six holes at Sawgrass. His game picked up through the latter half of the day, but he was yet to recapture the magic that had him rocket to his maiden victory at Augusta. Until the 17th. Where so many others were finding only water on one of golfing’s most fiendishly difficult holes, Garcia triumphed with a breath-taking hole in one, becoming one of only eight players in history to manage such a feat. Sure to be one of the most re-watched and analysed shots in the championship’s five decade history.
Si Woo Kim’s beautiful round three driver off the deck shot
Between Friday and Saturday, the tone of much of the coverage around the Players Championship had changed. After good-but-not-great showings in the first two rounds, it was round three at TPC Sawgrass when many pundits seemed to sit up and take notice of the South Korean wunderkind.
If there was a single moment that really hammered home how much of a threat Kim posed to the established winners, it was his driver off the deck on the challenging par-4 14th hole from 260 yards out deep in the rough that did it. Kim unfortunately did not find quite the same amount of luck on the green as he did off it, putting twice for par on an 82-foot putt. Undeterred, Kim went one to dominate over the final two days, calmly and coolly showing how to best tame the TPC at Sawgrass for a flawless final-round finish with 69, putting him 10 under par.
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