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The hype is so strong about the 17th that the rest of the course often gets ignored. And while the PGA Tour touts so much about its championship event, it is largely defined by a single hole.

For most of the fans, the splash is as entertaining as any good shot.

“It’s an infamous type of vibe about the hole, which is good because it raises the tournament profile,” Geoff Ogilvy said. “But it’s probably bad because it’s a little bit of a lottery for the second-to-last hole of maybe the fifth most important tournament.

“Sergio hit one of the most quality iron shots anyone has seen to win a playoff. Sean O’Hair hit a shot only 4 yards further in the air and went from second place to 11th. For 70 holes, he was the second-best player and he finishes 11th. Is that right?” he added. “They’re lucky someone hasn’t been winning and did that.”

Goydos said the hole is short enough that it can get away with being a bit different.

“It would be in an awkward spot if it were a 3-iron,” he said. “We’re asking guys to be the players’ champion, and were asking him to hit a short iron into a green.”

The island green again will be a big part of the story when The Players Championship gets under way, along with several subplots.

Woods, who has only one finish in the top 10 since his win 10 years ago, returns with as many questions about his health as the longest winning drought in his career, now on 18 months. He missed last week because of minor injuries to his left knee and Achilles. After playing another nine-hole practice round Wednesday, he reported only “minimal” swelling.

The defending champion is Tim Clark, who has only played two tournaments this year as he tries to recover from an elbow injury.

The Players Championship offers the most world ranking points outside the majors, even without the No. 1 player in the world. Lee Westwood decided not to compete this year, at first over a dispute with the PGA Tour’s membership policies, later saying it didn’t fit into his schedule. Also skipping is Rory McIlroy, who said he wasn’t comfortable on the course.

Westwood could lose the ever-changing No. 1 ranking to Martin Kaymer, Donald or Phil Mickelson if they were to win. Kaymer also could return to No. 1 if he is the runner-up.

Asked if missing the No. 1 player was a detraction from the tournament, Goydos said, “I think it’s a detraction to him, not us.”

Yes, the show will go on, and the 17th hole figures to be a big part of the story.

Several players were asked where they would go to watch if they were spectators. All of them mentioned the 17th _ not just for the par 3, but to see the second shot on the par-5 16th, and the tee shot on the 18th.

“On 16 you can make a 3 or a 6,” Dustin Johnson said. “On 17, you can make a 2 or an 8.”