Viktor Hovland, Keith Mitchell debate: Is the Players the fifth major? That’s Debatable

April 17, 2020

In GOLF’s all-new series That’s Debatable, sponsored by Cisco WebEx, we’re settling some of golf’s most heated disputes. Our writers and editors have been seeded 1-16, battling head-to-head to determine whose takes are most on point.

Some debates are too big, even for the experts. In today’s edition of That’s Debatable, we tackle one of golf’s quintessential arguments, and we had to bring in the big guns to do it. We’re (temporarily) abandoning our GOLF staff bracket to bring in two PGA Tour studs — Viktor Hovland and Keith Mitchell — to take on the granddaddy of all golf debates: should the Players Championship be a fifth major?

As a staff, we’ve opined over the status of the Players at great length (you can view some of our work on the subject HERE and HERE). But there’s something to be earned from hearing the opinions from the men themselves. You can see their debate in the video above, or read their arguments below.

The Players should be a major (Hovland)

  1. History changes all the time: Counting the Players as the fifth major isn’t an affront to history because every year history is changed on the PGA Tour.
  2. Shouldn’t count as a major in the past: Nobody’s asking the Tour to make previous Players victories count as majors, but there is the opportunity for a “line in the sand” moment where, going forward, all Players wins will count as major victories.
  3. Sub out PGA Championship for the Players: Lose one and gain another! This way golf maintains the four-major schedule.
  4. It’s an amazing venue: The crowd and the course are among the most memorable in all of golf.
  5. When you look to the future, it’ll hold the same value: 50 years from now, you’ll view Players wins the same way you do other majors, so why not switch it?

The Players is NOT a major (Mitchell)

  1. You can’t rewrite history: There’s no way to change what’s already happened. If you start counting the Players as a major, you’re on a slippery slope to sacrificing the value of history.
  2. Tournament is in its own category: The Players isn’t just a major, it’s the Players! It’s known for being the Players, not for being a major.
  3. It’s better than “just another major”: Because it stands on its own, you’re forced to count Players victories in addition to majors, which puts the tournament above being “just another major.”
  4. Women’s game does five majors for sponsorship: The women’s game has five majors, but it does so for sponsorship purposes, not because five is a better number.
  5. No such thing as amateur golf: Sure, the U.S. Amateur used to be considered a major, but amateur golf has changed so dramatically since it was considered a major that it’s not a fair comparison.

Winner (by judge’s decision)

Hovland might have the higher world ranking, but he’s beneath Mitchell on the debate circuit. In the eyes of our judge, Mitchell’s argument wins! The Players isn’t the fifth major. Mitchell advances while Hovland returns to working on his short game.

Keep it locked on GOLF.com and @GOLF_com on social media to follow along as “That’s Debatable” continues every day at noon!