Friday 9 December 2016

Here's why the exclusive Players Championship is known as the 'fifth major'

Published 14/05/2016 | 15:02

Golf: The Players Championship: Rickie Fowler victorious, posing with trophy after winning playoff and tournament on Sunday at Stadium Course of TPC Sawgrass. Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 5/10/2015
CREDIT: Carlos M. Saavedra (Photo by Carlos M. Saavedra /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X159569 TK6 )
Golf: The Players Championship: Rickie Fowler victorious, posing with trophy after winning playoff and tournament on Sunday at Stadium Course of TPC Sawgrass. Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 5/10/2015 CREDIT: Carlos M. Saavedra (Photo by Carlos M. Saavedra /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X159569 TK6 )

You don't get a Green Jacket, the Claret Jug, the outrageously sized Wanamaker Trophy or the aptly named US Open Championship Trophy, but winning the Players Championship stills bring with it a lot of prestige.

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An Irishman has never won the tournament known on the PGA Tour circuit as the 'fifth major' but that could change this year with both Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy in contention entering into the third round.

But what makes the Players Championships so special? Does it deserve the nickname of the 'fifth major?

There are a few things that have made the tournament both exclusive and prestigious.

Firstly, it has traditionally had both the biggest prize fund and the biggest winner's check of any tournament on the PGA Tour. If Lowry or McIlroy are lucky enough to claim first place this year, they will take home $1.89m, which is tied for the largest prize on tour this year with the PGA Championship.

Likewise, the overall purse of $10.5m is the joint largest this season too.

Another reason that the tournament has such a lofty status among professionals is down to the extra benefits that are afforded to the players who perform well. The winner of the Players Championship earns 80 world ranking points, which is the most on tour except for the majors, where each winner gets 100 points.

For reference, the winners of the four World Golf Championship events - which are seen as prestigious in their own right - get between 66-76 ranking points.

Additionally, the Players Championship is the only tournament other than the majors championships that award the winner 600 Fed-Ex Cup points, which are important if a golfer wishes to compete in the lucrative end of season playoff tournament where the winner receives a check for $10m.

All in all, while calling the Players Championship the 'fifth major' can seem a bit pretentious, there are definitely valid reasons to call it that, and if Lowry or McIlroy can finish atop the leaderboard this weekend, it won't be like winning just any PGA tournament.

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