World Golf Hall of Fame members Davis Love III of St. Simons Island, Ga., and Vijay Singh of Ponte Vedra Beach and fellow major champions Charl Schwartzel, Padraig Harrington and Stewart Cink, have one thing in common.
They have to win this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando to get to The Players Championship next week. And to illustrate how difficult it is to make the PGA Tour's "gold standard" event, those five players have combined for 160 worldwide victories and nine major championships.
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But as far as the final avenue to get into The Players, they're on the same footing as Harry Higgs, Beau Hossler or Zac Blair, three of the other players who have to win at Bay Hill to get a spot at the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass next week.
Of course, Love and Singh are on the PGA Tour Champions and don’t have much they need to prove after combining for 101 professional victories. Love won The Players twice (1992 and 2003) and the 1997 PGA, and Singh won the 1998 and 2004 PGA and the 2000 Masters.
There are 30 players in the field at Bay Hill who aren't qualified for The Players, which first requires winning a PGA Tour event since last year's Players. The next category is anyone who finished among the top 125 on the 2018-19 FedEx Cup points race.
Other ways to get into The Players are to win the Korn Ferry Tour money title (Scottie Scheffler), win the Senior Players (Retief Goosen), win The Players or a major in the previous five years (Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker) or win The Memorial in the last three years (Jason Dufner).
The PGA Tour also has a heart. Daniel Berger and Bronson Burgoon are in the field through medical exemptions.
Finally, anyone not otherwise qualified makes it if they're among the top 50 on the World Golf Rankings after last week's Honda Classic. That further enriched the international flavor of the field when Bernd Wiesberger (Austria), Matthew Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood (both from England), Victor Perez (France), Jazz Janewattananond (Thailand) and Erik van Rooyen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (both from South Africa) gained entry.
In addition to Love, Singh, Schwartzel, Harrington and Cink, other past PGA Tour winners needing a victory this week are Kevin Chappell, Harris English, Brendan Steele and Steve Stricker.
Wie West joins Golf Channel team
Past U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie West is joining the Golf Channel team next week as a contributor to its Golf Central "Live at The Players," beginning on Monday.
In addition, 1998 Players champion Justin Leonard will slide into Frank Nobilo's spot on the show's prime time telecasts.
Wie West previously worked on the Golf Channel's Solheim Cup coverage.
"I learned a lot from working with the ‘Live From’ team at the Solheim Cup and I am honored to have been invited back ... for this prestigious event," she said in a statement.
Wie will be busy this year with the next phase of her career. She also will work with Golf Channel at the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup and for CBS during the Masters.
Wie won the 2014 U.S. Women's Open and has won four other LPGA titles. She has played sparingly since 2018 because of a combination of injuries and her marriage to Jonnie West, the director of basketball operations for the Golden State Warriors. They announced in January that they are expecting their first child.
David Duval, the 1999 Players champion, and Ponte Vedra Beach resident Billy Kratzert also return on the Golf Central Live at The Players team.
Stamp of approval
The U.S. Postal Service commemorative stamp honoring Arnold Palmer was unveiled on Wednesday at Bay Hill, but the post office is also holding a stamp dedication on Friday at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine.
There will be a ceremony at the Arnold Palmer autograph wall near the Hall of Fame gift shop at noon, and the stamps can be purchased until 3 p.m. The stamp shows a pose from Palmer during the 1964 U.S. Open.
Florida Swing changes
A late start to the PGA Tour's winter season in Hawaii on Jan. 7, 2021, has created the need to shuffle the Florida Swing, which goes from four events in a row to three.
There will be only 13 weeks before the Masters next year, as opposed to 14 this year. As a result, the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens will move from the opening even to the Florida Swing to the week after The Players. The Palmer Invitational will lead off the Florida Swing March 4-7 and The Players will be the next event March 11-14. The Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor goes from the final week of March to three weeks after the Masters.
Event: Arnold Palmer Invitational, Thursday-Sunday, Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando.
At stake: $9.3 million purse ($1,674,000 million and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner).
Defending champion: Francesco Molinari.
TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 12:30-2:30 p.m.); NBC (Saturday-Sunday, 2:30-6 p.m.).
Area players entered: Bud Cauley, Harris English, Matt Every, Lanto Griffin, Brian Harman, Billy Horschel, Zach Johnson, Russell Knox, Davis Love III, Keith Mitchell, J.T. Poston, Sam Saunders, Vijay Singh.
Notable: Every was the last American winner (back-to-back in 2014 and 2015). ... Molinari shot 64 in the final round to beat Matthew Fitzpatrick of England by two shots. The top-five players were from outside the U.S., and eight of the top-nine, with Mitchell the only American. ... Two contenders from last week's Honda Classic, winner Sungjae Im and Tommy Fleetwood, tied for third at Bay Hill last year. ... Also playing are past champion Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau.
ROAD TO THE PLAYERS
Dates: March 12-15.
Days to first round: 7.
Events before The Players: 1.
Defending champion: Rory McIlroy.
Players trivia: There are players from 25 countries in this year’s field.
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
Event: Hoag Classic, Friday-Sunday, Newport Beach (Calif.) Country Club.
At stake: $1.8 million purse ($270,000 to the winner).
Defending champion: Kirk Triplett.
TV: Golf Channel (Friday, 6-8 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 5:30-8 p.m.).
Area players entered: Fred Funk.
Notable: Triplett beat Woody Austin with an eagle on the par-5 18th hole, the second playoff hole. ... Bernard Langer won last week to draw within four victories of Hale Irwin's all-time record. It was also his 100th top-three finish on the Champions Tour, one behind Irwin.