by Jeff Skinner
The Players Championship gets started today in Ponte Vedra at the TPC Sawgrass. This Championship has the largest purse of the year at $9.5 million with $1.7 million going to the winner. It wasn’t always this way. When this tournament started in 1974 it was called the Tournament Players Championship and was first played at the Atlanta Country Club. This was the tour players answer to the PGA Championship. The PGA Championship is operated by the Professional Golfers Association. The Tour Players wanted to establish their own championship and get some of the headlines and revenue that all the majors received. When play got started that Labor Day weekend in 1974, Jack Nicklaus came into the championship hungry and disappointed. Nicklaus had last won seven months earlier at the Hawaiian Open. He had won at least one major championship in each of the four previous years. In 1974 he was shut out of the majors finishing T4 at the Masters, T10 at the US Open, third at the British Open and second at the PGA. He was ready for a win at what the players were hoping would be considered the new major on the block. Nicklaus was not disappointed when they finished on Monday due to rain on Sunday. He beat JC Snead for the first “Players Championship” and won $50,000 dollars. He had top ten finishes in twelve of eighteen tournaments. He finished first in scoring for the year and second on the money list. Jack said, “I had not won in a long time, so I wanted the TPC very badly. I feel as if I salvaged at least part of the year with this win.”
In 1974 Nicklaus had won two tournaments, had a top ten in each major, finished first in scoring and second on the PGA Tour money list and he felt he had “salvaged” the season. That’s a man with high expectations. That’s Jack Nicklaus. That’s the greatest golfer of all time.