5 major storylines to follow at The Players
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Whenever 144 of the best golfers in the world get together for a marquee event, there's plenty to talk about. Here are five of the biggest storylines entering the 2018 Players Championship.

Looking out for No. 1

Five golfers entering this week's Players can leave with the coveted world No. 1 ranking. Dustin Johnson, the current holder, needs to finish inside the top 11 to retain the distinction. That would be his best-ever result at the tournament. Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth need a win or a solo second to move up. World No. 5 Justin Rose also needs a win to jump up four spots. That leaves Justin Thomas, who is most likely to be crowned the world's best golfer Sunday night. If none of the above results come to pass, Thomas will move into the No. 1 spot, regardless of his finishing position.

Tiger versus Phil

After it was announced that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson would be grouped together for the first time in 17 years at The Players, the two legends began battling. Phil jokingly challenged Woods to a high-stakes head-to-head mach, then said, "I don't know if he wants a piece of me." Tiger responded by asking reporters how many wins each of them had on Tour and added, "We'll play for whatever makes him uncomfortable." With these future Hall of Famers both playing great golf after their 40th birthdays, expect plenty more opening-round fireworks.

Can Spieth conquer his TPC Sawgrass demons?

Jordan Spieth's last three trips to TPC Sawgrass were a disaster. He missed the cut each time, accounting for a third of his total missed cuts from 2015-17. Spieth did tie for fourth in his first appearance at The Players in 2014, perhaps because he hadn't yet created so many ugly memories on the course. As seen on No. 12 at Augusta, the 24-year-old struggles mentally on occasion. He summed up his thoughts on The Players nicely in his pre-tournament interview, describing the event as "harder to win than a major."

Day's driven to get back on top

After Jason Day won the Wells Fargo Championship, it became apparent that he wants to be ranked No. 1 again. In his winner's press conference, Day discussed how important the top spot was to him growing up and how meaningful it was when he reached the pinnacle in 2015. Even Woods believes the Australian can get back to his once-dominant self. If Day wins his second career Players Championship this week, it will be a major step in the right direction.

Will TPC Sawgrass show its teeth?

Year after year, TPC Sawgrass wreaks havoc on the field, making it one of the more difficult tournaments to win. With 88 bunkers, 17 water hazards, and powerful Florida winds, the course can make even the elite look relatively mediocre (just ask Spieth). With winners ranging from the best golfers ever (i.e. Woods and Jack Nicklaus) to long shots like Craig Perks in 2002 and Si Woo Kim last year, seemingly everyone has a chance. TPC Sawgrass is known for its iconic island green on No. 17, a hole where 703 balls have found the water since 2003. No lead is safe standing on the 17th tee Sunday.

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

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5 major storylines to follow at The Players
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