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Here’s a random sampling of thoughts from players heading into the PGA Tour’s flagship event, The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
On his current drought: “I’ve gone through periods like this in my entire career. There were some down times, but this one has lasted longer than I would like to expect. But it is what it is. You keep progressing, keep playing through it, and I’m going to let it happen.”
On the state of his game: “The whole idea is that I peak four times a year and I’m trying to get ready for Congressional (site of the U.S. Open) and I need some playing time. I missed playing last week at a golf course I truly love playing, but I really want to get out there and play and compete. This is a big event, and I want to be here and play.”
On his health: “The knee is better, no doubt. The Achilles is better, as well. So I’m here playing.”
Current FedExCup points leader Bubba Watson
On the absence of world No. 1 Lee Westwood: “I mean, the tournament is still going to go on. We still have a great field. But you've got to look at his schedule. His schedule sets up where this is just a tough week for him to get over here. He needs some time off. That’s fine.
“We aren’t the media. We don't look at who's here and who's not here. I’m trying to beat 143 people no matter who’s here, no matter if he’s here or not.
“But no, that's the thing about golf, though. He’s from Europe. He plays that schedule, and he plays some over here. It just didn’t fit in his schedule this year. There’s a lot of great tournaments that we can’t play in all of them.”
On the famed 17th island green: “That is a hole that's unique in golf because it has no bail-out. You have to hit a great shot. You have to hit the green or it’s a two-shot penalty. It may as well be out of bounds there because you’re back re-hitting it. It’s certainly a unique hole, and I’ve paid it a lot more respect as time has gone on and appreciate what it can do to harm you and try not to get too greedy because the penalty is so great.”
On the state of his game: “I see some things in my game that are starting to get better and better. I’ve been able to, for the last year, year and a half now, putt with direction. I really know what it is I’m trying to do on the greens now. I’m rolling the ball better than I ever have in years.
“My short game has been sharp. My driving has been much better, I feel, and I’m excited about this week. I feel like I’m driving the ball straighter than I ever have, and I’m excited to put that into play.”
2004 Players champion Adam Scott
“I think everything is in as good a place as it can be, and from here it’s just a matter of continuing to push myself to get better and better because I think there’s room for improvement everywhere. I’m certainly not dominating golf, so I need to keep pushing myself and try and keep moving in a forward direction with it all. But I’m on a good track right now. I feel very happy about where it’s all at.”
On the absence of Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy from The Players: “You know, you miss a couple top 10 players and the No. 1 player, it’s going to weaken the field. But it’s still an extremely strong event.
“I know Lee has played here a few times. But he just doesn’t feel like it suits his game very well, so why play an event when you don’t feel like you’re going to get to it having a chance to win or feel comfortable in it. I mean, I can’t speak for him, but I guess that’s his reasons.”
On his chance to become No. 1 in the world this week: “Being No. 1 isn’t really a goal of mine. That’s really just an outcome of going through the right processes and hopefully the results coming. If I go out and continue to work on what I need to work on and give myself the chance to win this week, and if I pick up the trophy, then great; it’s one of the spoils. But it’s certainly nothing I’m really concentrating on.”
On Tiger Woods: “I see determination. I see a hunger, which are two key components to any player, really. Once you have those things, mix those with hard work and great ability, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
“You know, he’s displaying a lot of patience, as well. Generally I think he’s displaying a lot of patience. We all have our frustrating outbursts from time to time, but I think he’s been very patient considering what I’m sure he expects of himself. So I think he’s a very determined man right now.”