How to watch Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass live online, TV schedule, radio and more

Richard Heathcote

It's biggest week of the year for the PGA Tour, and The Players should be the subject of the most comprehensive coverage all season.

The PLAYERS Championship might not get the same respect as the four majors, but the season's "fifth major" and the PGA Tour's grandest event certainly gets major-championship level coverage. This is the biggest week of the year for the Tour, an event they've marketed and pushed over its 30-year history into one of the most prominent places on the schedule. There's continually a loaded field, one often referred to as the strongest of the year, the largest purse in golf, and a venue that's iconic and sets up well for both the galleries and TV coverage.

Those aggressive marketing efforts and the money poured into and around this event have largely succeeded. It may not have the designation as a major, but the top players keep showing up and the TV audiences have tuned in in large numbers.

The Tour and NBC/Golf Channel will, of course, take a big hit with defending champion Tiger Woods not playing this week at TPC Sawgrass. Much like the Masters last year, Tiger was not only in the hunt (and eventually won) but there was also a ton of weekend drama surrounding the No. 1 player in the world. The Masters had the mania around his illegal drop, and the Players had the contretemps and subsequent back-and-forth with Sergio Garcia. For golf, it was as close as you can get to trash talk and it was riveting to see each player go out and play golf side-by-side, and then immediately fire away to the mics once off the course. It was a much more innocent drama to watch last year, as it stemmed largely from Tiger perhaps stirring up the crowd as Sergio went to hit a shot, and it was well before Garcia made racially charged comments to make the matter not so fun anymore.

And just like CBS, which logged their lowest Masters ratings in 20 years, NBC is going to get hammered without Tiger and all the attendant drama that comes with him. That doesn't mean the tournament won't get soup-to-nuts coverage though, and this event probably has more options and angles for either streaming or watching on TV than any other all year.

Because NBC and Golf Channel fall under the same Comcast umbrella, there's no interruption on the coverage schedule and a couple additional options will be available when we get to the weekend. It's not something they can do when CBS has the late weekend coverage, but with NBC, Golf Channel can run their concurrent "spotlight coverage" broadcast while the more traditional broadcast is live on their sister network. It's a broadcast that Geoff Shackelford called "probably the future of televised golf" when GC put it in play back on the Florida swing, and honing in on holes 16 through 18 this weekend should make it an attractive second option.

The spotlight coverage will focus on those three classic finishing holes, a risk-reward par-5 that presents equal chances for an eagle chance or a water ball, the island par-3 17th green and the long par-4 18th with that intimidating tee shot with a huge lake all down the left side. What makes the coverage unique, however, is the graphics and data that pepper the viewer, including the popular TrackMan info, tracer technology on live shots, and a constant flow of the stats that are becoming more and more valuable to the game. Here's an example of how the screen looks for Golf Channel's spotlight coverage:

Gc_spotlight_medium

So that will definitely be a good option on the weekend, especially if all you want to do is watch players hit into the island green.

If you want the regular old broadcast tracking the guys at the top of the leaderboard, then that will be available from 1 to 7 p.m. for the first two rounds and 12:30 to 7 on the weekend. Terry Gannon and Nick Faldo will lead the coverage when Golf Channel has the reins, and then hand things off to the traditional NBC team of Dan Hicks and cuddly Johnny Miller. Along with the U.S. Open, which will be making the switch to FOX next year, this is really Miller's week to shine. He gets his shot at the Ryder Cup every other year, but we can always count on Johnny to crush those nervy swings and strokes at TPC Sawgrass' dangerous finishing stretch.

It's a broadcast that Geoff Shackelford called "probably the future of televised golf"

On top of all the TV options, there will be multiple streams each day if you're stuck at work or unable to get in front of a TV. Golf Channel and NBC will have their usual simulcast stream up and running throughout the week, via their LiveExtra service. That's available pretty much every week on Tour, but it's not something we always get at the biggest tournaments of the season and the majors. In addition to that simulcast, PGATour.com, this being their Super Bowl, will have two streams going each day on their site. One will focus on a featured group in the morning wave and then move to a second group in the afternoon wave of tee times, while another stream will show you all the action at the par-3 17th (with some additional shots from Nos. 8 and 18). The Tour does a pretty good job of putting the biggest names on that featured groups stream, which wasn't always the case at the Masters.

The Players has certainly ascended into the biggest non-major of the year, and a way that's been achieved is just by doing everything bigger. It's a tournament that's crafted for a TV audience, and unbound by some of the stuffy traditions surrounding the major championships and the organizations that run them. Golf Channel touts that the 17th green will be covered from "every conceivable angle," with a cameraman marooned out in the water for the day and a camera embedded in the small bunker that almost no one ever lands in at the front of the green.

There may be contrived elements that overhype this event, but at one point, the Masters wasn't a major and those traditions could have been deemed contrivances then too. Whether you like the course and the promotion around the event or not, the strength of the field and uniqueness of the coverage should compel you to tune in for at least a portion of the four-day stay at Sawgrass. Here's how you can watch throughout the week (all times ET):

Thursday's first round coverage

Television:

1 to 7 p.m. -- Golf Channel

Online streams:

8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured groups stream for both AM and PM group

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured holes stream (No. 17, with additional coverage of Nos. 8, 18)

1 to 7 p.m. -- Golf Channel simulcast stream

Radio:

Noon to 7 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)

Friday's second round coverage

Television:

1 to 7 p.m. -- Golf Channel

Online streams:

8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured groups stream for both AM and PM group

9 a.m. to 7 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured holes stream (No. 17, with additional coverage of Nos. 8, 18)

1 to 7 p.m. -- Golf Channel simulcast stream

Radio:

Noon to 7 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)

Saturday's third round coverage

Television:

12:30 to 2 p.m. -- Golf Channel

2 to 7 p.m. -- NBC

2 to 6 p.m. -- Golf Channel "Spotlight Coverage" of holes 16 through 18

Online streams:

9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured groups stream for both AM and PM group

Noon to 7 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured holes stream (No. 17, with additional coverage of Nos. 8, 18)

12:30 to 7 p.m. -- Golf Channel/NBC Sports LiveExtra simulcast stream

Radio:

Noon to 7 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)

Sunday's final round coverage

Television:

12:30 to 2 p.m. -- Golf Channel

2 to 7 p.m. -- NBC

2 to 6 p.m. -- Golf Channel "Spotlight Coverage" of holes 16 through 18

Online streams:

9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured groups stream for both AM and PM group

Noon to 7 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured holes stream (No. 17, with additional coverage of Nos. 8, 18)

12:30 to 7 p.m. -- Golf Channel/NBC Sports LiveExtra simulcast stream

Radio:

Noon to 7 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)

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