The Players Championship 2012 Preview: K.J. Choi Defends Title At TPC Sawgrass

K.J. Choi of South Korea hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The 2012 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass begins on Thursday. Can K.J. Choi successfully defend his 2011 title?

The Players Championship 2012 gets underway at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday afternoon with a solid field of competitors ready to win a share of the $9.5 million purse. K.J. Choi is the defending champion, having defeated David Toms on the first hole in a sudden-death playoff in 2011.

If he is up to claiming his second title at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Choi will have plenty of motivation in his grouping for the first two rounds. He is set to play with former winners Tim Clark (2010) and Sergio Garcia (2008). But that's just one of many great pairings to follow.

Rickie Fowler is fresh off last weekend's victory at the Wells Fargo Championship and will be paired with Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan. Woods struggled at Charlotte last week and missed the cut after shooting even-par after two rounds.

Rory McIlroy lost to Fowler in a playoff last weekend, but he'll look to rebound this week when he begins play with Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker. Mickelson, the 2007 winner at TPC Sawgrass, received induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame earlier this week.

For other notable groupings and tee times, check out PGATour.com. Television coverage on Thursday began at 1:00 p.m. ET on the Golf Channel.

For more on the PGA Tour, visit golf blog Waggle Room and SB Nation Golf.

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