What Makes a Good PGA Tour Field? Location, Location … and a Date

The field for a PGA Tour event and how strong it is can often be pared down to the venue. If the course is not well-received, then the tournament will have a hard time attracting top players (outside of the signature events which they are all likely to play regardless).




If a tournament is on the wrong weekend, it doesn’t matter how good the course is or how great the amenities. There are only so many weeks in the year, and players set up their schedules based on when and where the tournaments are played.




PGA National’s Champion course will get its strongest field in years for this week’s Cognizant Classic.




And in recent years, the former Honda Classic (now Cognizant Classic) found itself in a tough spot—following the popular Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles and preceding the popular Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.


The latter two events are now $20 million signature events, which would make the situation worse if it were not for the fact that an extra week on the calendar this year gave the new Cognizant Classic some breathing room.


It still precedes the Arnold Palmer and the Players Championship, but having the Mexico Open follow Genesis this year gave the new-look Cognizant a boost. The field has 19 players from the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking, up from just eight last year.


And the tournament at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., has Rory McIlroy for the first time since 2018 and another past champion, Rickie Fowler.




Jake Knapp’s victory at the Mexico Open on Sunday was his first PGA Tour title in his ninth start and the third time a rookie has won this year. He joined Nick Dunlap at the American Express and Matthieu Pavon at the Farmers as rookies to win this year. … Pavon made it to the PGA Tour via his top 10 finish among players not otherwise exempt via the DP World Tour’s final Race to Dubai standings in 2023. Sami Valimaki of Finland, who also qualified for the PGA Tour via the final DP World Tour standings, finished second. He has two DP World Tour wins. … LIV golfers took the top three spots and six of the top nine at the Asian Tour’s International Series event in Oman. Carlos Ortiz won, shooting a final-round 65 to defeat Louis Oosthuizen by four strokes. Oosthuizen, who won twice late last year in South Africa, was projected to move to 107th in the OWGR but is still faced with missing the Masters for the first time since 2008. … Will Tiger Woods enter the Arnold Palmer Invitational or the Players Championship? The bet here is the Players, where he is exempt due to his 2019 Masters win, which came with a five-year exemption. In fact, due to the event being canceled in 2020, Woods will also be exempt for the 2025 Players. … The first round of the Masters is in 45 days.




Bob Harig is a golf writer for SI.com and the author of the book “DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods,” which publishes in March and can be ordered here. 



Gideon Canice

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