When the Players was in March, it had an identity problem. It was just a tune-up for the Masters—not for me but for the top players. It's good that we got away from that. In the early '90s I never liked the idea that because Greg Norman and Nick Price didn't play the West Coast swing, the Tour season really started at Doral. As a West Coast guy, I thought that was a bunch of you-know-what.
The Sawgrass Marriott next door, where most of the players stay during the tournament, is interesting, especially since it went to bankruptcy court awhile back. They have some one- and two-bedroom condos on the far end. I suggested that they should put all the players in there, seal it off and make it like an Olympic Village. Everyone else could use the actual hotel. No one thought that was a good idea, probably Marriott most of all. Not many people know you can take a boat from the Marriott to the 13th tee during the tournament. Really. There's a boat dock by the pool behind the hotel; it's like the Disneyland ferry that goes to Tom Sawyer's Island. It docks left of the 13th tee, you get off and go watch golf. I've never been on it, and unless we have a shotgun start and I tee off on 13, I probably never will.
Sorry, Commissioner, there are only four major championships. The fifth major is a nice little catchphrase, but it's not accurate. Yes, the Players is the fifth most important tournament in men's golf. It's simply not a major. The Players is a notch below the majors, but it's a good couple of notches above everything else. It's a solid No. 5, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Dealing with the media is kind of a game, but you have to play it. Last year Jim Gray corralled me after I had made a 9 at Pebble Beach. Fine. So he asks, "You made a 9, what were you thinking?" I said, "Well, two weeks ago I made a 9 on a par-3. This week I made a 9 on a par-5. I think I'm getting a lot better." By the way, anybody seen Jim Gray lately?
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