What you missed: The highs and lows of The Players Championship


In this week’s what you missed, we reflect on the wins on Tour, Butch Harmon retiring from Tour life, and the highs and lows of The Players Championship

From media pranks and incredible shots to the ‘epidemic’ of slow play, the rule that’s ‘killing the game’ and Poulter being shouted abuse by spectators, there were plenty of highs and lows from the Players Championship this week. 

One of the biggest highs was Rory McIlroy’s victory, bouncing back from a tough start to silence the critics as Jim Furyk pushed him until the end. 

We look at his win, as well as Guido Migliozzi’s maiden European Tour title and why Butch Harmon is giving up Tour life.

Rory McIlroy silences the Sunday doubters with 15th PGA Tour win 

Heading to TPC Sawgrass, Rory McIlroy had just posted his fifth consecutive top 10 after failing to win from a final group for the ninth time in a row, and the subsequent questions of his ability to close out a victory gained attention. 

But McIlroy was quick to squash those notions on Sunday, recovering from a rocky start with four birdies on his back-nine to beat out Jim Furyk by a single shot and claim The Players Championship. 

For McIlroy, it was those near misses over the past couple of months that he credited with being able to get over the line. 

“I think all the experiences I’ve had over the last few weeks in terms of trying to win and not getting over the line definitely helped me today,” he said. 


“Maybe if I hadn’t have had those experiences, I wouldn’t be sitting up here with this trophy, so I’m thankful and grateful for those experiences I’ve had this year. Yes, it would have been nice to maybe get another win, but it sort of made it all worth it, the fact that this win has come at this golf tournament, a tournament where Sawgrass and I didn’t have the greatest relationship starting off, and I’m very thankful to the PGA TOUR for putting it back to March.”

Read More
How Rory McIlroy became the 2019 Players Champion
What he said after his victory
Rory McIlroy: WITB
Prize Money Breakdown

Guido Migliozzi wins first European Tour title at Magical Kenya Open

The Magical Kenya Open made it’s debut on the European Tour last week as Guido Migliozzi held on to win his maiden title on just his 14th start on Tour. 

Migliozzi, who came through Q-School, seemed to thrive under the pressure as he parred his way in from the 13th to post a two-under 69 and win by a single shot over Adri Arnaus, Louis De Jager and Justin Harding. 

“I like this moment,” he said of standing on the 18th tee with a single shot lead. “I like the pressure, it’s like a drug. I love pressure, I love playing with a lot of people looking at me and a lot of cameras.


“There was a lot of pressure on the  course. After the birdie at the 12th I was leading but it was tough. I just kept patient towards the end, that was it.

“I enjoyed the last two days very much. The pressure was a lot and I’m happy about how I’m playing under pressure, also with my putting game that I worked a lot on.”

Read More
How Guido Migliozzi won the Magical Kenya Open
Migliozzi: WITB

The Players Championship: 6 Records set at TPC Sawgrass 

➤ Rory McIlroy joins Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only other player to hold 15 PGA Tour victories (including 4 majors) before the age of 30.
➤ McIlroy joins Henrik Stenson and Woods as the only other player to win The Players, The FedEx Cup, a major and a WGC.
➤ McIlroy becomes the fifth European player to win The Players, after Sandy Lyle, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer.
➤ Jhonattan Vegas holes longest putt ever on 17th from 69 feet 7 inches
➤ Harris English records fifth ever alabatross at The Players Championship during round 1, holing out for two on the par-five 11th. 

Stat Attack: Tiger Woods carded his first quadruple bogey at TPC Sawgrass in 1,229 career holes when he found the water twice on the 17th during round 2. 


Butch Harmon to retire from Tour life

According to a report from Golfweek, Butch Harmon is set to retire from life travelling to Tour events as a coach, and will also scale down his TV commitments with Sky Sports Golf.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, two sources confirmed to Golfweek that Harmon had recently told his players he is “done on Tour” and wants to cut back on traveling.

Harmon, who is the son of 1948 Masters Champion Claude Harmon, has become a household name over the past couple of decades: Tiger Woods won eight majors under Harmon before their split in 2003, and he currently counts Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler among his roster of players.

But Harmon turns 76 later this year, and it seems he feels now is the right time to scale back his travelling and commitments on Tour, including on TV. He has been part of Sky Sports’ Golf Coverage for more than 20 years, but the report indicated his appearances this year will be limited to just the 2019 Masters.

He won’t be giving up his job altogether, and will still continue to teach from his home in Las Vegas, but he will no longer be present on driving ranges on Tour.

His son Claude, who coaches Brooks Koepka, already works with Fowler and DJ.

butch harmon

Webb Simpson, McIlroy sound off on rules at Players Championship

The Players Championship was not without its fair share of rules drama. Harold Varner III was assessed a two-shot penalty after their was a problem with his driver earlier in the week, but it was Webb Simpson’s unfortunate luck on the 14th hole during his final round that grabbed the headlines as he called out the rules for ‘killing the game’.

When Simpson approached his ball off the green, his putter got caught up in his shirt, and his ball moved “a quarter of an inch”. After an official gave Simpson a one-stroke penalty for violating Rule 9.4b, the defending champion later criticised the rules, citing that intent to break a rule should play a much bigger part.

“I’m going to be loud and clear, we have to get intent into the rules. We have to. Because it’s killing our game when it comes to these kind of things,” said Simpson. “What they try to say is either it’s hard to write the rule with intent or you open it up for gray area.

“I think it’s actually the opposite. There’s no advantage. My putter hit my clothes, it moved it a quarter inch, I’m going to move it back. So I’m just I’m hoping that somehow or another intent can get broadened.”

If it had been on the green, one of the new rules would allow him to replace it without penalty. 

webb simpson

As for the ‘killing the game’ debate, McIlroy one again called on the Tour to do something about slow play, branding it an ‘epidemic’.

There was no light left for Anirban Lahiri had to finish out round 1 on Thursday, and when eventual champion McIlroy was asked about finishing in the fading light after a near six-hour round on Friday, he said he thinks the Tour needs to get tougher and start handing out penalties. 

“They don’t do anything about it,” said McIlroy, who is known as one of the quicker players on the PGA Tour. “It’s become somewhat of an epidemic on Tour. Look, it’s our livelihoods, and people are going to take their time, and as the course dries up and gets firmer and gets tougher, guys are going to take their time.

“But the fact that someone didn’t finish yesterday, just being through daylight savings and the tee times and someone had to come out today because there wasn’t enough light to finish, I mean, that’s unacceptable.

“What time is it right now? This is five hours and 40 minutes after our tee time. I get that it can take five hours to play out there, but it shouldn’t take any over that. Honestly, I think they should just being a little tougher and start penalising shots earlier, and that would be an easy way to fix it.”

Ian Poulter wasn’t happy with the fans at TPC Sawgrass

Ian Poulter was firmly in contention after the first two rounds of The Players Championship, but had more than just his golf game to complain about after a disappointing third round 75 on Saturday. 

Poulter notched up five birdies, five bogeys and a triple on moving day, but was left more put-out by the fan behaviour that left playing partner Jim Furyk apologising for the language directed at him. The Ryder Cup hero took to social media to talk about the drunken spectators that directed foul-mouthed abuse at him in front of his children, tellingly finishing with the hashtag #havesomerespect. 

“Really feel sad for my kids who had to walk around today listening to fans who were non stop verbally abusing today,” Poulter wrote on instagram. “Real shame in this day an age we still have a few idiots that can’t handle a couple of beers.”

“Oh well remember the good times #havesomerepect #itsjustagame

“It wouldn’t happen at Augusta… Sad when your playing partner apologizes about the fans”

ian poulter

The players prank the media

Some journalists were left scratching their heads on numerous occasions during interviews leading up the first day of The Players Championship as high profile golfers threw odd descriptions and quirky phrases in to their press conferences.

For others, these turn-of-phrase anomalies completely passed them by and it wasn’t until play actually got underway that it was revealed the biggest names in golf had been playing a prank on the entire media.

Jimmy Fallon has asked everyone from Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka to Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson to slip strange phrases, given to them by The Tonight Show, into their interviews. And they all excelled. 

Watch the hilarious video below

The best shots from The Players

For the third year in a row, there was an albatross at TPC Sawgrass – just the fifth in the history of the event – as Harris English holed out for a two on the par-five 11th during the opening round. 

From the tee, three holes in one, belonging to Ryan Moore, Seamus Power and Sungjae Im, who became the youngest ever player (age 20) to get a hole in one at The Players. 

Eddie Pepperell got the crowds going as he holed an unlikely birdie putt on the 17th hole to get to 14-under, paving the way for the early clubhouse leader. Yet less than half an hour later Jhonattan Vegas not only matched that feat but out-did it, holing out from 69 feet 7 inches and breaking the record for the longest ever putt on the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. 

- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.