Golf’s unofficial fifth major starts Thursday from TPC Sawgrass as the 2023 Players Championship is set to begin. Cameron Smith of Australia is the defending champion, but will not be competing as he joined the LIV Tour. Here are the last five Players Championship winners who are still actively on the PGA Tour.
The two-time PGA Championship winner (2017 and 2022), posted a winning score of -14 to beat England’s Lee Westwood by a stroke. Thomas was in fact four strokes back of Westwood after eight holes in the final round, but had a key eagle on the 11th hole, which helped the Kentucky native get back in contention. A birdie on the 12th hole gave Thomas a two-stroke lead.
The current World Number three beat American Jim Furyk in a battle of former United States Open champions. Furyk won in 2003 in Olympia Fields, and McIlroy won in 2011 at Congressional. McIlroy, a native of Holywood, Northern Ireland, shot a four-round score of -16, while Furyk was at -15. In the final round, McIlroy won despite a double bogey on the fourth hole. His best round of golf in the tournament was the second round where he went seven-under-par.
The 2012 United States Open champion at San Francisco’s Olympic Club was the wire-to-wire winner at TPC Sawgrass five years ago. At one time after the third round, Simpson had a seven stroke lead over New Zealand’s Danny Lee. Simpson finished the tournament by shooting a four-round score of -18 and beat three other players by four strokes.
At the 2017 Players Championship, Kim made history by becoming the youngest player to ever win the tournament at 21 years of age. The South Korean beat South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and England’s Ian Poulter by three strokes after shooting a four-round score of -10.
The 2015 PGA Championship winner and world number one at the time was a wire-to-wire winner like Simpson was two years later. The native of Beaudesert, Australia, was spectacular over the first two rounds as he got to -15. Over the last 36 holes, Day was at even par, and beat American Kevin Chappell by four strokes.