Players ChampionshipMay 8, 2017

Bombs away: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas pairing highlights 2017 Players Championship tee times

World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship - Round One
Stan BadzMEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MARCH 02: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Dustin Johnson of the United States walk along the 14th hole during the first round of the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec on March 2, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

Those who crusade against the ever-increasing driving distances on tour might want to look away.

The PGA Tour released the first and second round pairings for the 2017 Players Championship on Monday, and while there are numerous intriguing groups in the field, one trio undoubtedly stands above the rest. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson will tee it up at TPC Sawgrass with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas.

This will be Rory's first start since the Masters, with McIlroy reportedly set to debut new sticks in his bag. Though he's never won the Players, the 28-year-old has finished T-12 or better in each of his last four appearances at Sawgrass. Thomas, who's cooled off since his torrid start to the season, still ranks first in birdie and eagle average on tour. Oh, and Johnson's playing pretty well, too, boasting a 3-1-1-1-2 finish line in his last five starts.

This triumvirate is especially dangerous with the big stick. Johnson leads the tour in driving distance at 315.2 yards per pop, with Thomas not far behind at 306.5 yards (sixth). McIlroy hasn't registered enough starts for his stats to count, but in his limited appearances in 2017 owns a 318.8 yardage mark.

Other groups of note include reigning champion Jason Day with Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson; Jordan Spieth playing with Hideki Matsuyama and Phil Mickelson; Masters winner and former Players champ Sergio Garcia with Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar; fledgling star Jon Rahm with Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer.


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