In his first trip back to TPC Sawgrass since winning last year’s PLAYERS Championship, Jason Day praised the course’s redesigned 12th hole after attempting it firsthand during the THE PLAYERS Charity Challenge.
“Strategically, it’s placed perfectly,” said Day following the charity event. “It’ll be interesting to see if a lot of guys go for it.”
Traditionally held on the course’s historic No. 17, the Charity Challenge was held this year at No. 12 to showcase the modifications that have been made to transform the hole into a drivable par four, which required shortening the hole significantly to make the green reachable off the tee.
The world’s No. 2 ranked golfer demonstrated the new hole by teeing off for each of the charities at the event. Although he spoke highly of the changes, he was unsuccessful in landing any of his 10 shots on the green. “I think I may be laying up for the tournament,” he quipped after his third shot sailed into the newly added pond to the left of the hole.
After he finished his tee shots, the celebrity representatives for each charity took over, with Day coaching them through their second shots. Former PGA Tour player Jeff Klauk won the challenge after his shot finished closest to the hole, rolling just 7 inches shy. Klauk, who previously won the competition in 2012, secured a $10,000 donation for the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida as he became the challenge’s only two-time winner. Former Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee finished in second place on behalf of Wolfson Children’s Hospital, with his shot landing just over a foot from the hole.
Day then surprised each participating charity with a check for $5,000 on behalf of his charitable organization The Brighter Days Foundation. THE PLAYERS presented Day’s charity with a $5,000 check as well.
Following the charity event, THE PLAYERS Championship Executive Director Jared Rice called the 12th hole modifications “transformational,” noting that no bigger change has been made to the course since it was opened in 1980. At the same time, he affirmed that the hole is still consistent with the element of risk/reward that was so important to former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman and golf course designer Pete Dye when they developed it.
“Now having that 11, 12, 13 opportunity for birdie, an eagle, for birdie on 13, makes this little corridor of golf an amazing place to watch the world’s best athletes at what they do really go for it, and that’s pretty exciting,” said Rice, who was appointed to his current position in December.
Day said that the biggest challenge presented by the changes to No. 12 will be on the left side of the hole, where a mound was converted into a fairway bunker and a pond was added adjacent to the green. Players will have to be especially accurate to mitigate the changes, he said, adding that the position of the tee will determine how golfers approach the hole. Overall, Day predicts a high percentage of players will attempt to drive the green.
After Day won THE PLAYERS Championship last year, TPC Sawgrass was closed for six months to renovate not only the 12th hole, but also the practice grounds and facilities and the area between the sixth and seventh holes to make it a more open and enjoyable vista for fans, Rice said. In addition, all greens and bunkers were rebuilt and resurfaced, with the greens on holes one, four, nine, 11 and 13 expanded for new hole locations. The tees on seven and 15 were also repositioned.
“I drove in this morning, and it just felt like a major championship, and we’re not even close to tournament time” said Day regarding the condition of the course. “I enjoy coming every single year, and I’m looking forward to coming back and defending this year.”
THE PLAYERS Championship 2017 will be held May 9-14.
Results of THE PLAYERS Charity ChallengeEpilepsy Foundation of Florida: Jeff Klauk, former member of the PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour – 7 inches
Wolfson Children’s Hospital: Josh Scobee, former Jacksonville Jaguars kicker – 1 foot, 2 inches
True Blue Navy Benefactors: Laura Baugh, former member of the LPGA Tour and current golf instructor at Sawgrass Country Club – 7 feet, 8 inches
North Florida Junior Golf Foundation: Todd Bork, head golf professional at San Jose Country Club – 9 feet, 11 inches
St. Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation: Clint Avret, head golf professional at Timuquana Country Club –17 feet, 3 inches
The Boselli Foundation: Tony Boselli, former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle – 27 feet, 6 inches
The First Tee of North Florida: Spencer Schindler, alumnus of The First Tee program and Flagler College golfer – 30 feet, 7 inches
Tom Coughlin Jay Fund: Curtis Dvorak, co-host of “First Coast Living” morning show and former Jaguars mascot (Jaxson de Ville) – 32 feet, 9 inches
Angelwood: Jeff Lageman, former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end and current co-host of “Jaguars This Week” radio show – 50 feet
K9s for Warriors (2016 Charity Challenge Winner): Bob Duval, past PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions winner – 52 feet