The evolution of scoring at The Players Championship: Jack Nicklaus started strong in

Here is how scoring evolved during the 50-year history of The Players Championship:

First Players, low scoring

Jack Nicklaus shot 16-under 272 at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 1974 with scores of 68-67 on the weekend. J.C. Snead established the early 18-hole record when he shot 64 in the first round. 

A quick record-breaker 

Nicklaus shattered that record with a 19-under 269 two years later at the Inverrary Golf Club in Fort Lauderdale. He opened with a 66 in the first round and put the tournament away for a three-shot victory with a closing 65. The top-six players shot 10 under or better for the tournament and runner-up J.C. Snead shot four rounds in the 60s.

Tough scoring in the Sawgrass Era 

The first two winners at the Sawgrass Country Club, Mark Hayes in 1977 and Nicklaus in 1978 couldn’t break par and they remain tied for the highest winning score in The Players at 1-over 289. Lee Trevino shot 10-under 278 in 1980, which was the lowest score in the five years it was at Sawgrass.

Record broken frequently. Then Greg Norman obliterated it  

After Jerry Pate shot 8-under 280 in 1982, the first year at the TPC Sawgrass, the 72-hole record was broken five times in 11 years, capped by Greg Norman’s 24-under in 1994 that remains the standard for Players scoring records.

The record was broken three times in five years before that, Fred Couples in 1984 (11-under), Calvin Peete in 1985 (14-under) and Mark McCumber in 1988 (15-under). 

Fred Couples begins a series of 63s 

Snead’s 18-hole record of 64 was matched by Dave Stockton in 1975 at Colonial and Couples in 1984. But Couples finally broke it in 1992 with a 63 in the third round.

Over the next 30 years, eight players tied Couples but only three went on to win, Norman in 1994, Jason Day in 2016 and Webb Simpson in 2018. Coincidentally, the major championship scoring record throughout most of those years was also 63. 

Tom Hoge breaks through 

The 18-hole record was finally broken by Tom Hoge in 2023 in the third round. Beginning at the 10th hole, he had 10 birdies and no bogeys. It could have been lower: he had putts for eagle at Nos. 11 (13 feet), 12 (7 feet) and 16 (61 feet). 

What are the other scoring records at The Players? Low front nine: 7-under 29 by Dustin Johnson (2022) and Martin Kaymer (2014). Low back nine: 7-under 29 by Rory McIlroy (2016), Kevin Chappell (2016) and Shane Lowry (2016). Low first 36 holes: 15-under 129 by Webb Simpson (2018) and Jason Day (2016). Low middle 36 holes: 13-under 131 by Webb Simpson (2018). Low final 36 holes: 12-under 132 by Justin Thomas (2021), Fred Couples (1996) and Rocco Mediate (1996). Low 54-hole score: 19-under 197 by Webb Simpson (2018) and Greg Norman (1994). Low first-round score: 9-under 63 by Jason Day (2016), Martin Kaymer (2014), Roberto Castro (2013) and Greg Norman (1994). Low second-round score: 9-under 63 by Webb Simpson (2018) and Colt Knost (2016). Low third-round score: 10-under 62 by Tom Hoge (2023). Low fourth-round score: 9-under 63 by Dustin Johnson (2022) and Brooks Koepka (2018). What are the Ringer scores at the TPC Sawgrass? 

Ringer scores are fun to compile and it’s simple: what 18-hole score would you get if you added the lowest scores in history on each hole? 

At the Stadium Course, start by considering all four par-3 holes have been aced, so there’s four strokes. All 10 par-4 holes have yielded 2s, so there’s another 20. Players have made 2 on three of the four par-5 holes for six strokes and the best anyone has done at No. 9 is an eagle, so there’s three. That makes the low ringer score at the Stadium Course a 33. 

You can go the other way also. If you added the highest scores made on each hole, you’d get a ringer score of 169 (81-88). 

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