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One of golf's great debates: Should the Players be a major?

The First Call readers vary on the topic. Some believe strength of field makes it major worthy, while others cite the championship's lack of tradition and absence of LIV players as dissenting reasons

The Players Championship
The Players Championship Trophy.

Question of the week [March 6-12]: Should the Players Championship, which this week will feature 43 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking (as of Friday's field release), be considered in the same discussion as the four majors — if no, why not?

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No way. The real majors let the very best players in the world in — the Sawgrass major? Nope. They only let a subset of the very best players in, and only because that subset plays in their subset of tournaments, which does not include all the best players in the world.

Tom Powers
Bradenton, Florida

I have always felt the Players event separated itself from all of the other non-majors — a distinguished field coupled with one of the top prize money purses.

I began attending the Players in 1984 and have always enjoyed the course and the competition. Since the early days, there has always been a push to call it a major. In my humble estimation, it will never happen. Is it as exciting as the Masters, the U.S. Open, or The Open Championship? Not even close. While my personal opinion is that I would sooner watch the Players than the PGA, politics suggests that the PGA will never be removed as a major event. There will only be four majors, so sit back, enjoy the event, count the balls that get wet on the 17th and accept the Players for what it is. 

Paul Vicary
The Villages, Florida

The Players is a major, Period.

The Masters has the smallest and weakest field of all the majors and many regular tour events. I love the Masters, but let’s face it, the Masters is a major invitational. For many years the Masters was referred to as the "Spring Putting Contest" by the pros participating. To not include the Players as a major is pure folly.

Jeff Breitner
Albuquerque, New Mexico

I’ve been watching the Players earnestly try to market themselves as a major for years. They have upped the prize money to try to buy their way to that elusive status. With each additional event becoming a major, it dilutes the esteem and value of the real majors.  

I say "No." Resoundly.

Bo McBee
The Woodlands, Texas

No. The Players should not be considered a major. It is a unique brand that stands tall and strong on its own merit. The PGA Tour needs to focus on the unique nature of this tournament rather than subtly and shamelessly promoting the idea of a fifth major. Let it be said that majors evolve from history and not from the C Suite in Ponte Vedra Beach. The Players is a special and great golf tournament unto itself and that should be plenty sufficient for all concerned.

Reid Farrill
Toronto, Ontario

The Players could certainly become a fifth major, but it would require a consensus from some groups with divergent interests.

The Tour players would have to want it, the Tour hierarchy would also be needed, and then two decisions would have to be made.  The first, to meet the objections of the existing majors, and the second, to decide whether to keep a permanent home for it such as the Masters.  

If the desire and fortitude is there, it could happen and over time my belief golfers would accept it.

Jamie McWilliams
Trinity, Florida

The Players should be a major. With most of the top 50 in the rankings in the field, it should carry the same prestige as any major.

Steve Craven
Peabody, Massachusetts

The Players is a major. It has served a reasonable time of endurance. It is played on a demanding course. It attracts the strongest field of any tournament in the world. The list of champions is equal to any other major. The winner earns exemptions equal to other majors. The winner earns equal consideration for Hall of Fame induction as the other majors.

Nobody sat down and decided on the original four majors, and nobody sat down and decided on the modern four majors. The list simply evolved. Between the inclusion of the two Opens and the two Amateurs, when did the PGA join the group? Were there five majors then until the Masters became eligible? Why did the Masters join the group? Was it because Bob Jones retired and the two Amateurs were dropped because Bob Jones said so? Did the Masters join the group without a test of time because Bob Jones said so?

Who should decide? The World Golf Hall of Fame could.

Michael Schurman
Durham, Ontario 

Why should the Players Championship not be considered in the same discussion as the four majors? In the words of Tevye, from "Fiddler on the Roof" — Tradition!. And the fact that the number of majors — 4 — lines up with a corresponding number for various other sporting events — World Series games needed to win the title and NBA Championship games needed to win the title. When one thinks of majors in golfing terms, you just think of the four. Change it to five? You just lose the symmetry.

Tommy Jennings
Winder, Georgia

No, it should not. The reason is there is simply no need for it. Yes, it is a significant tournament and winners should receive a bit extra recognition for winning it, but there are other significant tournaments, and the sport and the world does not need a fifth major. 

The majors have a historical element to them that allows current players to be measured against the greats of the past. If you are going to break the ice on the number of majors, why stop at five?  Why not have six, seven or eight? The point is that the majors stand alone as marks of achievement, and to add more would just lower the value of each one. The women's game gained nothing by adding a fifth major. The men's game should learn from that and keep things just as they are.

John Abercrombie
Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Yes. Same great exciting golf course every year. Add a few of the top amateurs who qualify. This would kick off the golf season a month early. Love it.

Butch English
Charlotte, North Carolina

The strength of field in the Players Championship is of major caliber. Definitely stronger than the Masters, comparable to the PGA. At the same time, since it was conceived for PGA Tour players, it is definitely inclusive, more so than the U.S. Open or Open Championship. which are open by qualifiers to select great players from all over the world. 

I am not sure of the history or selection process that decided the four majors would be those four, but the Players is 40 years old, and if the powers that be wanted it to be declared a major, it probably would by now. I'm good with the Players standing on its own merits, a great field on an iconic golf course, and everyone waiting to see what happens on 16, 17, and 18 on Sunday afternoon.

Barry Duckworth
Knoxville, Tennessee

I read this. Someone asked Arnold Palmer who he worked with on his putting. Palmer said Jack Smith — not sure of the name. The questioner asked who is Jack Smith?

Palmer said that when he is practicing putting in Latrobe, Jack Smith, a member, would watch and say, "Arnold, you’re the greatest putter I’ve ever seen." And again, "Arnold, you’re the greatest putter I’ve ever seen." And again and again. Palmer told this story with a big grin on his face. 

Jody Hawn
Dallas Texas 

The answer to your question is no. Reason? The Players is a weaker field than the majors because it does not allow LIV Golf players to participate (i.e., Cam Smith not allowed to defend.

What??!! Ludicrous! Crazy!  

And how about Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambueau, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Lee Westwood, Abraham Ancer, Talor Gooch, Harold Varner III, Bubba Watson, Jason Kokrak, Patrick Reed, Juaquin Niemanm, Carlos Ortiz, Sebastian Munoz, Marc Leishman, Brendan Grace, etc.

Juan Elizondo
Omaha, Nebraska

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