ORLANDO – It’s a completely different animal.
That’s the cautionary take from Jim “Bones” Mackay about the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, home to this week’s Players Championship, the PGA Tour’s flagship event near its headquarters in the northeast portion of the Sunshine State.
It’s not a cuddly animal, either, as the tournament’s move back to March will create an arduous challenge for the best players in the game. The former long-time caddie for Phil Mickelson who’s now an on-course reporter for NBC/Golf Channel started ticking off reasons why the course could be more of a beast this time of year than when it was contested in May the past dozen years.
Significant increase in wind. Different playing surface. Cooler temperatures. More challenging rough. A longer course. A slower course.
“When I was a kid I used to go up there and watch PGA Tour school late in the year, and you watch those guys play in a lot of wind and it was a nightmare,” Mackay said. “Everything’s harder with 15- to 20-mph wind. You’re on edge. You can’t play nearly as effectively from the rough. The course is going to play much, much longer. It’s a completely different…