The Players Championship unveiled four featured groups for next week at TPC Sawgrass, and one of them includes Tiger Woods. Now we just have to wait to see what his status is.
The first of two featured groups that will tee off Thursday afternoon will be Woods, Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson. (Start times were not yet announced.) Woods, who has not played since his 10th-place finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship last month, was a last minute scratch from the Arnold Palmer Invitational due to a neck strain. The 43-year-old Woods has won at TPC Sawgrass twice in his career, with his most recent Players victory coming in 2013. Woods, when tweeting he wouldn’t play Bay Hill, said he hoped to be ready for The Players. He has a press conference scheduled for Tuesday but has made no official update on his status.
Reed, winless since his Masters victory last April, finished tied for 14th in his last appearance on Tour in Mexico City. Simpson returns to TPC Sawgrass as the defending champion. He tied for 36th at the Honda Classic, his last start.
The other featured group on Thursday afternoon is Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Fowler, who was victorious at TPC Sawgrass in 2015, won the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month.
Koepka, who tied with Fowler for second at the Honda Classic in his last appearance on Tour, last won the CJ Cup in October. Meanwhile, Spieth enters having not won since the 2017 Open Championship. He tied for 54th at the WGC-Mexico and has not finished better than T45 at any event during the 2018-19 season.
One of the Friday afternoon featured groups is Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar. Despite winning the 2007 Players, Mickelson has consistently been on the fence about playing at TPC Sawgrass this year. Mickelson finished tied for 39th at the WGC-Mexico in his last appearance on Tour, and his most recent victory came at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
McIlroy enters the Players after tying for second at the WGC-Mexico last week and playing in the final group at Bay Hill. He hasn’t won on Tour since last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. As for Kuchar, his most recent appearance on Tour resulted in a 50th-place finish in Mexico. His last win came at the Sony Open in January, and he was victorious at TPC Sawgrass in 2012.
The other Friday afternoon featured group is Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas. Rose won the Farmers Insurance Open in January, and Schauffele, who finished tied for 14th in Mexico City last month, won the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Thomas enters after trying for 30th at the Honda Classic. He’s still looking for his first Tour victory since the Bridgestone last summer.
Featured groups will be broadcast on Golf Channel and through PGA Tour Live and Amazon Prime.