Jason Day answers questions from the media Thursday morning. Jason Day, THE PLAYERS 2016 winner was on hand Tuesday, March 7, 2017 for Media Day where Day, playing with local celebrities took part in a closest to the pin contest for charity on the newly renovated 12th hole of the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. (Bob Self/Florida Times-Union)
Tuesday marked the first time in 10 months Jason Day laid eyes on TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
The world’s second-ranked golfer, and 2016 winner at The Players Championship, was in St. Johns County as part of media day for the 2017 event.
The Australian’s appearance was yet another reminder that the biggest sporting event in St. Johns County is quickly approaching. Two months from Wednesday will mark the beginning The Players week.
“You really forget how many people come out to this event,” Day said. “You’re playing golf events all year, but then you come to an event like this, this is The Players Championship. This is our tournament, The PGA TOUR. The PGA Tour does such a tremendous job with not only looking after the players, but looking after the fans.”
Day’s media availability was held at the remodeled 12th hole. Mounds have been removed, water has been added and the golfers themselves have an opportunity to drive the green the par-4 hole. No. 12 was already one of the most exciting holes on the course, as more birdies were recorded there than any other par-4 last year.
(Don’t worry the renovations will have no impact on Tacos on 12. Taculu will still be serving its delicacies in the shade behind the 12th green. )
Watching Day stand at the tee box firing at the revamped hole was a reminder of what makes The Players such a fun event for the golfers, volunteers, fans, media and others. There is always excitement somewhere. Whether it’s between the ropes, during a social setting or a fun fund raiser, there is usually something for everyone.
Even something as innocuous as THE PLAYERS Charity Challenge on Tuesday morning became an event.
Day stood at the tee box on the new No. 12 and fired away tee shots for charitable purposes. The Australian hit the tee shot and a representative from 10 different organizations would hit the second, with whoever was closest to the pin earning $10,000 for the organization they represented.
Using a driver, because he joked it had the biggest club face and he was a bit nervous, Day hooked his first three shots left into the newly created water. As he limbered up, Day cracked: “You know what? I may be laying up in the tournament.”
If he did, there would be little shame in that because the 29-year-old hardly used his driver en route to winning the 2016 tournament with the lowest winning score in six years.
Among those who had the privilege of hitting approach shots with a little tutelage from the former world No. 1 was Menendez graduate, and Flagler College senior, Spencer Schindler, who represented The First Tee of North Florida.
After Day hit his tee shot right and in a bunker, Schindler received tips from the major champion before blasting out the bunker. His shot scooted beyond the hole, resting 30 feet away from the pin.
The Epilepsy Foundation of Florida wound up being closest to the hole after former PGA TOUR professional Jeff Klauk hit his chip within seven inches.
None of the 10 organizations in the challenge left The Players Stadium Course empty handed as Day surprised them all by announcing his foundation would donate $5,000 to each. In making the donation, Day noted his foundation, The Brighter Days Foundation, is committed to ensure each of the charities involved left the green at No. 12 a winner.
“I’m proud to be THE PLAYERS defending champion and a part of the great work this tournament does for the Northeast Florida community.”
Day’s comments may be even more beautiful than the golf, or the ubiquitous sundresses that will be on display when the tournament does tee off in earnest on May 11: Sports fostering a spirit of community that is unrivaled at any other point in the year.