What if the Players Championship was a major?
By: Ross Starkey

In women's golf the step was made last year to include the Evian Championship as a fifth major. A good move in the women's game and reflective of the international look of its players and for attempting to expand the women's game while at the height of popularity.

The men's game is not quite so moveable. Yet it is not as immovable to stop the continued suggestions that a fifth major be considered, and nowhere is the question more frequently asked than at TPC Sawgrass in May, when the Players Championship comes round.

The Australian Open has always been suggested, falling as it does at a time on the calendar suitable to be considered, but then, so does the Players Championship. And it has a field and a course to match any any other.

The PGA's own Hall of Fame considers winners entry to their fabled corridors of glory and as Kaymer suggested, the players themselves are starting to include it in the same sentence as the majors.

If it was a major, perhaps we could all stop talking about Sergio Garcia's role as number one golfer without one, perhaps lifting some of the pressure off his diminutive shoulders and releasing the tired monkey from his back. And that may be true for other notable winners including Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar and K.J. Choi too.

We might also be signalling the end of Tiger Wood's challenge to topple Jack Nicklaus's major tally, he would now have 21 to Woods's 16, one step further ahead. The records would still show the best golfer ever has more Players Championships than anyone else - fitting really.

Adam Scott, Justin Leonard, Steve Elkington, David Duval, Hal Sutton, John Mahaffey, Jerry Pate, Lanny Wadkins and Tom Kite would all be double major winners, as too would Kaymer. While Davis Love III and Fred Couples would possess major records more worthy of their talents.

Phil Mickelson would still be just one step away from possessing a Grand Slam of majors and Lee Trevino, Raymond Floyd, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman, Lee Janzen and Al Geiberger would have all added to their impressive major tallies.

Perhaps weaker winners of the event such as Jodie Mudd, Mark Hayes, Stephen Ames, Tim Clark and Craig Perks would have gone on to bigger and better careers? Perhaps not, but - like Perks - didn't one-time winners Shaun Micheel, Orville Moody or Todd Hamilton manage to pull a rabbit out the hat for at least one week at a major championship?

Maybe Calvin Peete's win in 1985 would have seen an earlier kick start of golf becoming more socially and racially expansive ten years earlier than what Woods achieved for the sport.

Perhaps an initial step might be for the European Tour to consider it a sanctioned event. It currently competes with the Madeira Island Open, which in turn shares itself with the Challenge Tour. If, and when that happens, prepare to take notice of another major change in golf.