Measured as one of the most difficult courses on the tour, adverse weather conditions can really make this Par 72 golf course a daunting prospect for even the very best. Course amendments, calmer weather and the quality of the field in recent years has seen winners and the chasing pack regularly shoot an overall score comfortably in the 270s, however. The course record of 63 (nine-under-par) has been matched on seven occasions in the last eight years, including by Hideki Matsuyama on the first day last year who led the tournament by two shots, but ultimately in vain as the competition was abandoned.
Golf’s unofficial fifth major also gives us the chance to get a look at the brilliant signature 17th hole, known as the Island Green, one of the most picturesque sights in professional golf. The 137-yard par three, almost entirely surrounded by water and located in one of the windiest positions on the course, gives golfers only one option, the centre of the green. It will test the nerve of the 154-strong field this week, and many will succumb to the hazard, as they do every year.
With plenty of water hazards around the course, hitting the fairway is imperative around Sawgrass, but few holes on the course offer more of a test than the par five 2nd. Its narrow fairway is complemented by trees, bunkers and water along the sides, so accuracy may be the deciding factor here as opposed to power.
The 13th hole provides another potentially treacherous par three. Not only is there a water hazard stretching along the entirety of the hole, and a long bunker on the opposite side, the three-tiered green has caused more three-putts or worse than any hole on the Tour over the past two decades.
Another huge water hazard along the left-hand side of the 18th hole also presents an intimidating task to finish, especially if the wind picks up, but perhaps Bryson DeChambeau will look to bomb his drive all the way over the dogleg, like we saw at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week.