If you ask the players who have gathered this week at the iconic TPC Sawgrass, a few blocks from Jacksonville Beach, they will tell you The Players Championship has the feel of a major. You have a one-of-a-kind golf course like The Masters, windy and unpredictable weather like the British Open and a world-class field of golfers like the U.S. Open or the PGA Championship.
Between the Golf Channel and NBC, there will be a combined 80 live hours of coverage, including 22 hours of live tournament competition Thursday through Sunday. They will have over 50 cameras covering the action, with a record 11 cameras on the 17th hole.
I spoke Tuesday with NBC Sports lead golf analyst Johnny Miller about what it takes to win The Players Championship and how Sawgrass can intimidate even the best golfers in the world.
How does playing at Sawgrass challenge the golfers?
Miller » "It's about pressure and nerves. So it's really about a guy that can handle all the different features of this championship. The water is so much of an issue, it makes you dang nervous. It's just a nervous tournament. It's a nervous week. It's a course that you have to tip-toe around, and that's why Tiger [Woods] has won it but he's struggled here, and Phil [Mickelson] struggled here and he won it once. You just get a little glimpse of it once in awhile when you can play well, and the rest of the time it just eats your lunch. It's really a fun event. You don't know what's going to happen."
Tell us about the famous 17th hole, the famous "Island Green."
Miller » "I love the hole, it's a great test of your nerves and picking the right shot. To be honest, it sometimes plays pretty easy. It can play real easy if there's no wind or if it's a little bit of a fade wind where guys can play that little baby draw, it gets pretty easy. If winds are coming from the east, which happens most of the time, then guys are throwing it out there and trying to hold it or ride the wind, it's a brutal hole. I like to cover the hole but to be honest, I didn't like playing it."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc.