I have a brief bone to pick with The Players Championship:
There are FOUR Majors. Four. Not five, not three — four.
And yet, year-after-year, we return to the same lazy discussion: Should the Players be a Fifth Major? And inevitably we come to the conclusion that, no, despite it being one of, if not the best, tournament on Tour that isn’t a major, it is not, in fact, one itself.
And yet, the entire week, all we hear and see, is FIFTH MAJOR plastered all over everything.
Does it have a good field, on a good golf course? Yes. Some might even say the BEST field.
Do you gain prestige and a big paycheck for winning? Yes. Most years it’s the biggest winners cheque given out all season.
But do you go down in the annals of golf history, forever etched into Major lore? No.
Take Si Woo Kim, KJ Choi, Tim Clark, Stephen Ames, and Craig Perks for example. These are good players that had amazing weeks and won The Players Championship. Major champions though? They are not.
Listen, I understand wanting to vault your tournament into the upper echelon discussion among the PGA Tour and its fans. And sure, when you look back on a guys season or career, a victory at The Players does mean more than a win at, for example, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. It doesn’t mean nearly as much as a major though.
Ask Rickie Fowler. Ask Matt Kuchar.
In reality, this event IS a top-tier level PGA Tour event. There is no denying that. Just as the WGC’s are; no more, no less. But it’s not a fifth major and it never will be. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Just think of what it would do to the record books to have 20% more Major Titles given out each season. What if Tiger wins two Masters’ and two Players’ in the next five years? No chance we give him credit for matching Jack’s major total of 18. None. You’d also be forced with deciding which retroactive titles are now majors. Does Tiger go from 14 to 16 because he has two Players titles? Does Jack go from 18 to 21 because he has three? Was the event as big back when Jack won his three? Would that be fair? Good luck with that discussion.
And therein lies the problem. Would it be nice as a viewer to have a major every month between March (when the Players moves there next season) through July? Maybe, maybe not. But its just not going to happen. There is too much history at stake, too much disruption, too much stature.
Since 1960 when Arnold Palmer mentioned the possibility of winning “The Grand Slam,” there has been no higher prestige in golf than the pursuit of The Masters, US Open, Open Championship (British Open) and PGA Championship. No man has ever captured all four in the same season, although there have been some close calls. Adding in a fifth? That’s just absurd.
So why call it “The Fifth Major?” Aside from marketing and fan engagement, it seems like a short-sighted action that only takes away from what is one of the best events on Tour. Instead, winning this just becomes something analogous to coming as close to winning a Major as you can, without actually winning one. Seems as though separating this event from the Majors and placing it in its OWN stratosphere, much like the WGC’s have done, would have been a much smarter strategy.
So, as much as I love watching the field, the course, the immaculate nature of everything surrounding the week, it just comes across a bit hollow. In a way, it’s like Canadians complaining we don’t get the attention that the US does. Sure, America may be more well known and covered, but why does that have to be the bar? Why can’t being great in your own right, be enough? Why not highlight your strengths, as opposed to yearning for something you’ll never be?
For The Players to have the cache it claims to have, or desperately wants to have, its time to drop the FIFTH MAJOR title. It’s not doing them any favors.