Sawgrass is fifth major for Padraig

Padraig Harrington believes the $8 million Players Championship deserves it's unofficial tag at the "Fifth Major."

But Jack Nicklaus, the man who has won more of the big ones than any other players, is still not convinced that there is room for more than four.

As he prepared to try and banish his swing problems and go one better than his runner up finishes in 2003 and 2004, Harrington turned his attention to the prestige of the test at Sawgrass this week.

Eyeing the top cheque of $1.44 million, he said: "I'm sure one day we'll be sitting here saying it's the fifth major.

"No question it's as close to being the best tournament in the world as could be, except for the fact obviously it doesn't have the heritage of the four majors.

"It's definitely the number one field and the number one test and the most exciting. And the fact that we go back makes it a little bit like Augusta, you're going back continually."

With 18 Majors to his name, Nicklaus still needs convincing that the Players Championship deserves to join the Open, the US Open, the US PGA and the Masters on the list of major championships.

The Golden Bear said: "I think I'm sitting in the place where the people here would like to have it be a major championship. But how many majors can you have?

"I don't know. I personally think four majors is enough."

World No 2 Jim Furyk believes that the major tag doesn make any difffernce to the fact that the field is the strongest if golf.

He said: "I don't care if it's a major or it isn't. I've gotten so tired of that question: 'Is this a major, is it not a major?

"My answer was simply: 'Does it matter?' It's a good, strong field and I would say it's, bar none, by far the strongest field in golf, year-in and year-out."

World No 1 Tiger Woods has won just once in 10 starts at Sawgrass with only one runner-up finish.

He is still the man to beat after three wins from six starts this year.

But he insists the tournament is wide open as Sawgrass does not favour the big hitters.

Woods said: "Anyone can win here. The beauty of this course is that we're all playing our second shots from about the same spot."

Length is not a huge factor on a course that has been transformed by capping the fairways with thousands of tons of sand and moving it from March to May.

While the weather is far from sunny, it will play faster than ever, making strategy more important than power.

Harrington pointed out: "There really is no advantage to taking out a driver and bombing it down there, because of the trouble obviously, but also how everything pitches in.

"You've got to think your way around this course. There's a lot of options all the way around, a lot of choices to be made. I think there's a lot of strategy to this course."

Harrington will be hoping he can find his swing in time after struggling badly off the tee in the Wachovia Championship last week, where he had rounds that varied between 66 and 79.

He said: "My swing was just mistimed and I didn't feel good. It wasn't there.

"I went out the first day and, even though I shot 66, I knew it wasn't there. I didn't have it in any shape or form."