Press Release: THE PLAYERS, Phil and Tiger

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson commit to THE PLAYERS Championship 2018

Two past champions of THE PLAYERS have 79 and 43 PGA TOUR victories, respectively;
this week marks the final chance for players to qualify via the top-50 in the Official World Golf Ranking

 

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – THE PLAYERS Championship announced today that Tiger Woods, the 2001 and 2013 champion of THE PLAYERS, and Phil Mickelson, the 2007 champion, have committed to play in the 2018 tournament, contested at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, May 8-13, 2018. Woods and Mickelson have a combined 122 PGA TOUR wins and are No. 50 and No. 4 in the FedExCup standings, respectively.
Woods, who is in search of his first PGA TOUR victory since the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, is the only player in golf history to win THE PLAYERS, the TOUR Championship, the FedExCup and all four major championships. Woods was unable to defend his 2013 title at THE PLAYERS due to a back surgery, but returned in 2015 and finished T69, his most recent start at TPC Sawgrass. This year, he earned a spot in the best field in golf due to the five-year exemption that exists for past champions of the event.
Mickelson recently earned his 43rd PGA TOUR win at the WGC-Mexico Championship in a playoff against reigning FedExCup champion Justin Thomas, 23 years his junior.  As Mickelson looks to become the seventh player to win THE PLAYERS more than once, he is also in search of his first multiple-win season on TOUR since 2013.
Players not otherwise exempt who are inside the top-50 of the Official World Golf Ranking as of Monday, April 30, will qualify for THE PLAYERS. The final opportunity to qualify for THE PLAYERS would involve either winning the Wells Fargo Championship or moving into the top-10 in the FedExCup standings.

Tiger Woods

After undergoing back surgery in April 2017, the only two-time FedExCup champ (2007, 2009) made his first official TOUR start of the 2017-18 season at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open and made his first cut on TOUR in two years en route to a T23 finish. Since then, Woods has made five other starts on TOUR, missing only one cut (Genesis Open) and then posting the following finishes in his next four starts: 12/The Honda Classic; T2/Valspar Championship; T5/Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard; T32/Masters Tournament.
Woods is one of six two-time winners of THE PLAYERS (Jack Nicklaus has won the championship three times), where he owns 16 made cuts in 17 starts, including one runner-up (2000) and three additional top 10s. He also ranks second behind only Sergio Garcia in career money earned at THE PLAYERS ($4,421,241.90), and his 13 consecutive made cuts at THE PLAYERS is the second-most in tournament history, behind only Sergio Garcia and Brad Faxon, who each own 14 straight made cuts.  Should Woods win THE PLAYERS this year, he would join Jack Nicklaus as the only three-time winners of the event (1974, 1976, 1978), and he would also notch his 80th TOUR victory, bringing him within two of Sam Snead for most wins on the PGA TOUR.
Here’s a closer look back at Woods’ two wins at THE PLAYERS:
2001
A 25-year-old Tiger Woods entered THE PLAYERS fresh off a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, where he posted four under-par rounds to edge Phil Mickelson by a stroke. Woods shot a first-round 72 to sit T37, then fired rounds of 69-66-67 for a 14-under 274 total, beating Vijay Singh by one stroke.
Woods started off birdie-eagle in the final round (which finished on Monday) to take the lead from Jerry Kelly which he never relinquished, but his 2001 victory is perhaps most remembered for his birdie putt on the 17th hole on Saturday. Woods hit a 60-foot putt that rode two tiers and broke three times before falling, with NBC’s Gary Koch repeating the now famous phrase “Better than most,” as the ball tracked toward the hole. It’s one of the most iconic shots ever witnessed at THE PLAYERS and a moment that will forever be remembered in golf history.
With Woods victorious at THE PLAYERS, he became one of only three champions who have won the week immediately preceding their victory at THE PLAYERS. Woods went on to win the Masters Tournament in his next start on TOUR, making him the first player to hold all four professional major titles at once. Woods would also go on to win his third of five straight Player of the Year titles and a third consecutive money title at the conclusion of the 2001 season.
“It is special, to be able to win a championship like this, on an extremely demanding golf course, with probably the best field assembled in all of golf — all of golf for the entire year,” Woods said after his 2001 win. “It is extremely rewarding to do that. Not only that, to be able to play down the stretch against Jerry and Vijay, two guys that played extremely hard this week. And obviously, I’m just very fortunate enough to come out on top.”
Click here for Woods’ 2001 past champion page on THEPLAYERS.com.
2013
Five years ago, Tiger Woods held a share of the lead heading into the final round of THE PLAYERS, thanks to opening rounds of 67-67-71. This marked the first time Woods had held a lead/co-lead after rounds one, two or three at the tournament. Heading into THE PLAYERS, Woods was playing incredible golf—his previous three finishes were: Won/WGC-Mexico Championship; Won/Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard; T4/Masters Tournament.
Woods was tied with fellow past champion of THE PLAYERS, Sergio Garcia, with just two holes remaining in Sunday’s final round. Playing in the penultimate group, Woods made par on the 17th hole, while Garcia, playing in the final group, watched on. Garcia proceeded to hit two shots into the water on the 17th en route to a quadruple bogey, while Woods striped a drive on the 18thhole to set up another par and his second title at THE PLAYERS.
With his win, Woods joined Jack Nicklaus, Steve Elkington, Hal Sutton, Fred Couples and Davis Love III as multiple winners of the event. His victory at TPC Sawgrass became his fourth of the 2013 season, the earliest he had achieved the feat in a season. Woods would go on to record his fifth win of the season at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which marked his 79th career victory, and would finish the season No. 2 in the FedExCup standings.
Click here for Woods’ 2013 past champion page on THEPLAYERS.com.

Phil Mickelson

THE PLAYERS 2007 champion will be making his 25th start at TPC Sawgrass this year, where he has recorded 16 made cuts, eight top-25 finishes and three top-10 finishes and ranks fifth in all-time career earnings at THE PLAYERS ($2,900,485.65). His T41 finish in 2017 snapped a string of four consecutive missed cuts in the tournament; however, Mickelson made 11 consecutive cuts at THE PLAYERS from 2001-2012, which is tied for sixth-most consecutive cuts made in event history.
His victory at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship snapped a 96-event winless drought (since the 2013 Open Championship) on the PGA TOUR and moved the lefty from No. 17 to No. 3 in the FedExCup standings (he is now No. 4). Mickelson’s best season-ending ranking in the FedExCup standings was No. 2 in 2009; he finished No. 34 last season.
In 11 starts this season, Mickelson has made 10 cuts and has notched five top-10 finishes: T3/Safeway Open; T5/Waste Management Phoenix Open; T2/AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am; T6/Genesis Open; Won/WGC-Mexico Championship.
Mickelson won THE PLAYERS in its inaugural showing in May, overcoming a one-stroke deficit to 54-hole leader Sean O’Hair and posting rounds of 67-72-69-69—277 to finish two strokes ahead of Sergio Garcia, who would go on to win THE PLAYERS the following year. It took the then-36-year-old Mickelson 14 starts at THE PLAYERS before his first victory – the most before a win of anyone except Tom Kite and Fred Funk, who both needed 15 starts at THE PLAYERS before their first win. He also owns the three-best finishes ever by a left-handed player at THE PLAYERS – 1 in 2007, T3 in 2004, T8 in 1998.
“I think as I look back on my career after I stop playing, I think I’ll look back on this tournament victory in the same light as the majors,” Mickelson said after his 2007 win.
Click here to view Mickelson’s 2007 past champion page on THEPLAYERS.com.
Volunteering at THE PLAYERS is a unique avenue for not only golf fans, but also for those looking to support an event that gives millions of dollars back to the community and to become a part of the team that works tirelessly to make the tournament a showcase of excellence. For those interested in applying to be a volunteer at THE PLAYERS this year, please visit THEPLAYERSvolunteers.com.
THE PLAYERS returns to TPC Sawgrass May 8-13, 2018.  More information about THE PLAYERS is available at THEPLAYERS.com. Ticket information can also be found at THEPLAYERS.com/tickets.

About THE PLAYERS Championship

THE PLAYERS Championship annually combines the best field in golf with the world-class venue that is THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Grant Thornton LLP, Optum and Morgan Stanley are the exclusive Proud Partners of THE PLAYERS. Proceeds from THE PLAYERS benefit Northeast Florida charities and have totaled more than $92 million since the event moved to Ponte Vedra Beach in 1977, including a record $8.7 million generated in 2017. In April 2011, THE PLAYERS announced a new charitable focus, committing to generate $50 million for youth-related charities over 10 years. For more on THE PLAYERS and the surrounding area, visit THEPLAYERS.com or floridashistoriccoast.com.

About Grant Thornton LLP

Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. Grant Thornton, which has revenues in excess of $1.7 billion and operates 59 offices, works with a broad range of dynamic publicly and privately held companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and civic and religious organizations.
“Grant Thornton” refers to Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions. Please see grantthornton.com for further details.

About Optum

Optum is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. With more than 135,000 people worldwide, Optum delivers intelligent, integrated solutions that help to modernize the health system and improve overall population health. Optum is part of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH).

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment
banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services. With offices in more than 42 countries, the Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.