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The Players Championship 2019 preview: Predictions, picks and upsets

17 March 2019

Every year 100,000 balls are retrieved from the waters around the 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass but on Thursday fans watched a golfer pull one out of the hole for just the ninth time after Ryan Moore struck a hole-in-one at the Players Championship.

Moore's ace hit the flagstick on the fly from 121 yards out on the par-3 hole, bringing a sliver of turf with it into the hole, before it nestled in the bottom of the cup. Fred Couples, Hal Sutton, Steve Elkington and Davis Love III obviously aren't here this week but there is one competitor in the field this week with a chance to join The Golden Bear and I bet you know who it is. And hopefully, the prank wasn't enough to sour some players from returning for a second crack at one of golf's most famous courses in the country.

Woods, who had spinal fusion surgery two years ago to resurrect a career that had been in danger of coming to a premature end, last played at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where he finished equal 10th on February 24. As did Phil Mickelson. Tway also holds the dubious distinction of carding the highest score at 17, taking a 12 in 2005. For those not up to speed on golf terminology, that's three-under par on a hole.

Marc Leishman (71) was next best of the Australians at one under, while countryman Cameron Smith (72) was a shot further back at even par.

First, let's take a quick look at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass and then we'll get into how the top players in the world could fare this week, a few more stories that could be entertaining and then I'll give you my official pick for the 2019 edition of The Players Championship. "You get a bad bounce here", McIlroy said.

Tommy Fleetwood seized an early lead at The Players Championship, but Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson were both close behind after their first rounds.

Tiger won last year's Tour Championship for his 80th PGA Tour title. They (greens) got dry quicker than I thought.

"The way I've been hitting the ball, I find the 17th a lot easier", Baddeley said. "Driving is a strength for me normally and if you put it in play all the time in general you have a big advantage".

"It's an all-or-nothing type shot".

The Players Championship 2019 preview: Predictions, picks and upsets