Quick 9: Trying to unravel a complicated TPC Sawgrass

1. The place that favors ... nobody?

That is the beauty of the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. It seemingly plays no favorites. Long hitters, short hitters ... all have contended, all have struggled.

Even winners of the tournament haven't necessarily mastered the place. Phil Mickelson won in 2007 and hasn't been in the top 10 since. Tiger Woods has two victories at TPC Sawgrass but notoriously struggled at the venue otherwise, posting just two other top-10s in 17 starts.

Perhaps the greatest example of how the course favors no style of golf occurred in 2004 and 2005.

In 2004, Adam Scott was 23, a young, strong, long-hitting player who won the Players. The following year the winner was 48-year-old Fred Funk, one of the shortest hitters in the game.

Since moving to the TPC Sawgrass in 1982, the tournament also has never seen a defending champion prevail.

2. Sawgrass frustrations

"It's a real honor to have won the tournament,'' Mickelson said. "I look back, I've struggled on that golf course over the years. It's a very difficult course to recover. To recover off the tee is very challenging because the penalties are so severe. Very difficult to recover around the greens because the shots are so tough around the greens. For me to have won the tournament, it means a lot to me. It's just underneath The Open Championship as far as surprise victories in my career.''

Mickelson also had struggled at The Open prior to winning at Muirfield in 2013.

3. Olympic aspirations

Several players, including major champions Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen, already have announced they will not participate, mostly citing the difficult schedule that the players face this summer. In a five-week period, those competing in the Olympics will play The Open in Scotland, the PGA Championship in New Jersey and then the Olympic tournament in Rio.

Mickelson sees no problem with it. "I actually really like it,'' he said. "The way I see it is that around the Olympics, if I can play well in the next two months and somehow get on the team, what a great opportunity to compete in the Olympics.

"And if I don't, I've never had a three-week stretch of a break over the summer. So we'll end up going on a family vacation, so it's a win-win the way I see it. The family would come with me down to Rio if I were able to make it. Again, I'm on the outside looking in, but still hopeful. And if not, we'll end up having a family vacation elsewhere. I actually don't mind condensing all the big tournaments closer together.''

Mickelson has some work to do but his tie for fourth at the Wells Fargo Championship helped. He jumped from 20th in the world to 17th. He will need to move ahead of No. 8 Dustin Johnson, who holds down the fourth and last spot among the Americans. A maximum of four per country can qualify as long as they are ranked in the top 15 in the world.

4. Spring break fun

5. Attitude adjustment

Rory McIlroy likes Pete Dye-designed golf courses. Well, some of them. He won the PGA Championship at Kiawah and the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick. But the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass? It remains a work in progress.

McIlroy missed the cut the first three times he played the course. Lately things have gotten better as McIlroy has posted top-10s in each of his past three appearances, although he was not a back-nine contender for a victory.

"The first few years I was quite stubborn and still trying to take on a lot of things instead of accepting the fact that I'm going to have to play the course the way everyone else plays it,'' McIlroy said. "If I'm going to beat them, I have to beat them with approach shots and good wedge play and putting. I feel like I've accepted the golf course a little bit more. It's a golf course that can frustrate you as well. It's one of those places that you feel like you played well but you walk off, like how did that just get away from me?''

6. No explaining golf

7. Putting problems

Rose switched to the claw putting grip prior to the Masters but it clearly was not working for him in Charlotte. In the final round, he did not make a putt longer than 6 feet.

"Obviously I feel like I've been trying something new the last few weeks and maybe this is the first real test and I didn't really pass with flying colors,'' said Rose, who is ranked 10th in the world. "So I'll just kind of assess that over the next couple of days.''

8. Wasting no time

The club was starting a project that would see the first hole lengthened to the second green, with the second hole -- a par-3 -- being eliminated. The par-5 fifth is being converted to a par-4 and a par-3 and the entire course will have the greens re-sodded.

9. To the rescue