Investigating The Players Championship's zero back-to-back winners

jason-day-rickie-fowler-players-championship (Jason Getz / USA TODAY Sports)

Investigating The Players Championship's zero back-to-back winners

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Investigating The Players Championship's zero back-to-back winners

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Maybe it’s Pete Dye’s unforgiving, yet all-inclusive, setup of TPC Sawgrass. Maybe it’s the perennially deep field, this year featuring 48 of the world’s top 50 players. Maybe it’s the exhausting mental aspect of each shot presenting a different challenge.

Whatever it is, in the 44-year history of The Players Championship, no one has won it back-to-back. Not Jack. Not Tiger. Not anyone.

“Maybe it’s one of those anomalies,” Adam Scott suggested Tuesday.

Maybe. How else do you explain past champions going 0-for-42 in golf’s officially unofficial “fifth major”? How do you explain the 36 different winners? How do you explain “T-5” as the best finish by the previous year’s champion?

You don’t, at least not all at once. There are, however, some theories as to how a golf tournament can avoid back-to-back winners in a time frame during which the human population added 3.5 billion people. Presenting the evidence …

Exhibit A: The course as an equalizer.

“Length isn’t a huge factor here,” said Scott, who won the event in 2004. “It’s not a huge advantage. Of course it is if you hit is dead straight down the middle, but there’s a lot of fairway runouts and a few doglegs and things like that that bring the long hitters back to play from the same area as the other guys. So you’re all kind of playing from the same spot, and that leaves it open for anyone.”

Exhibit B: The major-level depth of the field.

“This is arguably the strongest field in golf, on a golf course that creates a great test,” 2015 champion Rickie Fowler said.

Fowler added that we would have loved to repeat last year, but given his Thursday-Friday score, he was not permitted to play the weekend.

Exhibit C: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“That’s really surprising to me that no one has come … I don’t know if anyone has even come close or not,” 2016 champion Jason Day said.

So it’s up to Day to break the dubious streak. At 22-1, Vegas gives the OWGR No. 3 player a fair but less-than-optimistic chance.

Scott likes his fellow countryman’s odds a little better.

“I think it’s going to happen. Of course, it could happen this week.”

Maybe.

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