THE PLAYERS Championship WITB for Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy & Dustin Johnson

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There were a lot of question marks heading into the 2019 PLAYERS Championship.

For the first time in years the tournament is being contested in March, which means TPC Sawgrass will play completely different in terms of weather. How would the best players in the world respond?

Then there are the conditions. Last autumn the entire course was over-seeded with rye grass in an attempt to create better conditions this time of year. TPC Sawgrass, by all accounts, will be a totally different beast this week. What type of player would thrive on the new, supposedly longer, course?

But here’s what we DID know heading into the 2019 THE PLAYERS Championship:

-The field is stacked.

-Team TaylorMade entered the tournament in excellent form—and with a little history on its side.

It was hard to pick who came into THE PLAYERS Championship with more momentum than Dustin Johnson, the newly re-minted World No.1, or Rory McIlroy, the leader on Tour in Strokes Gained-Total.

Rory has left nothing but scorched earth in his wake over the past few months. The Northern Irishman has finished sixth or better in each of his last five starts and has played in the final pairing on Sunday in back-to-back events. Given his pedigree, it should only be a matter of time before Rors finds pay dirt once again.

He has as good a shot as any in Ponte Vedra this week. And he started his bid for a title with a bogey-free 67 (-5). He’s currently in a tie for fifth.

As he’s done all season, Rory let it rip off the tee in the first round at Sawgrass. He was third in Strokes Gained-Off the Tee, picking up nearly two strokes on the field with his M5 driver featuring Injected Twist Face.

Translation: With the driver firing, expect to #HearTheRors all over the Stadium Course in the coming days.

RORY MCILROY WITB

  • M5 Driver | 9°
  • M5 Fairway | 19°
  • P790 2-iron
  • P750 irons (3-4)
  • P730 Rors Proto Irons(5-9)
  • Milled Grind Wedge | 48°
  • MG Hi-Toe Wedges | 54°& 60°
  • Spider X Putter
  • 2019 TP5 Golf Ball | #22

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Wins at the Saudi International and at the WGC-Mexico Championship (over McIlroy in the final group, no less) helped vault DJ to the No. 1 spot (again) in the Official World Golf Rankings last week.

He entered the week second on Tour Strokes Gained-Total and is in the top-10 in Strokes Gained-Tee-to-Green (5th) and Strokes Gained-Putting (9th). DJ even led the field in the latter category south of the border wielding his favorite Spider Tour Black putter.

Despite his early-season success, TPC Sawgrass has recently proven a difficult puzzle for DJ to crack. In his last five starts, DJ has gone: T-17; T-12; T-28; T-69; T-59.

Following a solid Thursday 69 (-3), DJ is right in the mix heading to Friday.

DUSTIN JOHNSON WITB

  • M5 Driver | 10.5°
  • M5 Fairway | 15°
  • P·730 Irons (4-PW)
  • P·790 Iron (3)
  • Milled Grind Wedges | 52° & 60°
  • Hi-Toe Wedge | 64°
  • Spider Tour Black Putter
  • 2019 TP5x Golf Ball

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Tiger Woods said earlier this week that he’d like to add THE PLAYERS’ new golden statue to his mantle. As a two-time champion, Tiger already has two of the old crystal versions in the bank.

Tiger returns to action this week after skipping the Arnold Palmer Invitational due to a neck strain.

Tiger had an up-and-down day on the course but rallied down the stretch to post 3-under and sits firmly in the mix.

TIGER WOODS WITB

  • M5 Driver | 9.0°
  • M5 Fairway | 13.0°
  • M3 Fairway | 19.0°
  • P·7TW Irons (3-P)
  • Milled Grind Wedges | 56° & 60°

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Jason Day is another member of Team TaylorMade that is in the field this week with a solid track record at Sawgrass. The 2016 champion had to withdraw from Bay Hill last week but is off to a solid start with a 2-under opening round.

JASON DAY WITB

  • M6 Driver | 10.5°
  • M6 Fairway | 15.0°
  • P·760 Irons (3-PW)
  • Hi-Toe Wedges | 50°, 54° & 60°
  • Spider Tour Red Putter
  • 2019 TP5x Golf Ball

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Jon Rahm made five birdies en route to an opening 69 (-3) as he looks to capture his first title at Sawgrass.

Rahmbo was 10th on the day in driving distance using his M5 driver featuring Injected Twist Face.

JON RAHM WITB

  • M5 Driver | 10.5°
  • M5 Fairway | 15°
  • RSI TP (2)
  • P750 Irons (4-PW)
  • HI-TOE Wedges | 52°, 56° & 60°
  • Spider Tour Red Putter
  • 2019 TP5x Golf Ball

Rickie Fowler, the 2015 champ, will navigate the course he’s had so much success on with the all-new TP5x golf ball.