Why the Players is the real 'Fifth Major'
At Quail Hollow last week, Martin Kaymer was the latest European to voice the opinion that he'd rather win one of the World Golf Championship events than this week's Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, who are skipping the Players, and their voluble agent Chubby Chandler said the same thing earlier this year. The European perspective is that by creating the WGCs the PGA Tour has bumped its own flagship event, the Players, to somewhere between eighth and 10th in the tournament pecking order.
I disagree, and most American players, fans and media would disagree as well.
The Players really is the "fifth major." The fickle WGC-Accenture Match Play certainly doesn't qualify as such, and the WGC-Cadillac Championship (at Doral) and WGC-Bridgestone (at Firestone) don't, either. They're big events, sure, but they are of equal importance, and they can't be "the fifth major" together. That designation must go to a single tournament.
The "fifth major" is not the European Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, because practically none of the top Americans bother to show up for it.
Along with the PGA Championship, the Players Championship routinely boasts the best field in golf, better than Arnie's tournament at Bay Hill, better than Jack's at Muirfield Village.
If golf has a fifth major, then it has to be the Players Championship. Maybe all that's missing is a name change to appease the Europeans: the WGC-Players. (Photo: Tim Clark, winner of the 2010 Players Championship; Robert Beck/SI)