This week the PGA Tour heads to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and the TPC Sawgrass for The Players Championship, and major champions Tiger Woods, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink will representing Nike Golf in the field along with six other Nike athletes. With many major champions in the field this week, I wanted to pose a question to our NGN readers, one which I’ve been pondering for a while now:
Should The Players Championship be an official fifth major on the PGA and European Tours?
In this post, I am going to present the case that it should be—please let me know your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree, in the comments below. Here are six reasons why I think the Players Championship should be the fifth major on the PGA and European Tours:
1. After the four existing major championships, The Players is the next most important tournament to the PGA Tour players.
It has been well documented that many PGA Tour players consider The Players to be the most important tournament to them outside of the 4 existing major championships — more than the Ryder Cup, President’s Cup or World Golf Championship events. The Players is known as “their championship”, and it’s how the tournament got its name.
2. The PGA Tour schedule is set up perfectly for this to be the fifth major.
If you look at the PGA Tour schedule, there is one major event every month from February through November:
February: WGC Accenture Match Play Championship
March: WGC Cadillac Championship
April: The Masters
May: The Players
June: The US Open
July: The Open Championship
August: The PGA Championship
September: The Ryder Cup or The Presidents Cup
October: CIMB Asia Pacific Classic
November: WGC HSBC Champions
With the Players in between the Masters and the U.S. Open, if it were an official major championship there would be five major championships in a row, one each month from April through August. This would be great for golf fans and for the sport itself in my opinion.
3. It has the best and deepest field on the tournament schedule.
The Players routinely boasts the best and deepest field in tournament golf, drawing the best players from both the PGA and European Tours, many of whom are major champions and most of whom are inside the top 150 in the World Golf Rankings. Here are the average field sizes for the four majors and The Players:
The Masters: 95+/- (tour professionals and amateurs)
The Players: 144-145 (tour professionals only)
The US Open: 156 (tour professionals and amateurs)
The Open Championship: 156 (tour professionals and amateurs)
The PGA Championship: 156 (tour professionals and PGA club professionals)
4. It has the biggest winner’s check on the PGA Tour, bigger than any of the four existing majors.
Money talks, especially in this case. In terms of the winner’s share of the tournament purse, The Players is the clear frontrunner. Here are the champion’s share for the four majors compared with The Players:
The Masters: $1,440,000
The Players: $1,710,000
The US Open: $1,440,000
The Open Championship: $1,452,078
The PGA Championship: $1,445,000
Other tourneys dole out large winner’s checks, but still not as big as The Players:
The Barclays: $1,440,000
Deutsche Bank Championship: $1,440,000
BMW Championship: $1,440,000
Tour Championship: $1,440,000
WGC Match Play Championship: $1,400,000
WGC Cadillac Championship: $1,400,000
WGC Bridgestone Invitational: $1,400,000
WGC HSBC Champions: $1,200,000
5. The Champions and LPGA Tours already have a fifth major.
The precedent has already been sent by the Champions Tour with its designation of the Senior Players Championship as its official fifth major championship. And the LPGA tour has designated next year’s Evian Masters as that tour’s official fifth major championship.
6. Four is just a number.
Traditionalists will say that there should be four majors because there always have been. Some say if the door is opened for a fifth major, what about a sixth and a seventh? But I don’t see that happening, five would be enough. Some say it opens a can of worms, one example being what about past champions, are they then credited with an additional major? I say yes, the same way the Tour now retroactively names tournaments (Jack Nicklaus would then have 21 majors, Tiger would currently have 15). Other issues can be dealt with on an as-needed basis.
Some have argued that the U.S. Amateur should be designated as a major golf championship, and although I don’t disagree with that either, I am talking about professional majors here. And some have argued that in recent years, The Players has lost some of its status as the Tour’s unofficial fifth major, and that the WGC events have moved ahead of The Players in terms of importance.
So what do you think, should The Players be a major or not?