PLAYERS Updates (Tuesday)

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The biggest news for the PGA Tour this week is the renewal of a new 10-year contract with Federal Express that will allow the FedEx cup program to continue until 2027. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan made the announcement at his press conference Wednesday morning.

“As you’ve heard me say, FedEx is part of the foundation of our tour,” Monahan noted, “and to know that it’s secured through 2027 is a special day and a great statement about our players.”

While the PGA Tour does not release sponsorship commitment numbers, it is safe to say that FedEx is probably the largest sponsor relationship the organization has.

Going forward, Monahan said that the Tour’s short term goals are to listen to the Tour’s partners, players and to make Arnold Palmer proud.

“On a long-term basis, it’s to continue to grow the playing and financial opportunities for our members across all of our tours, but as importantly to continue to make an impact,” he explained. “Our organization does incredible things for charity, $165 million raised last year, $3 billion in economic impact.” Last year’s charitable contribution was $8.5 million to the Northeast Florida communities.

The PGA Tour also includes the PGA Tour Champions, the Web.com Tour, PGA Tour Latin America and PGA Tour Canada, and it plays a significant role in the World Golf Championships.

Now to the golf.

Defending Players champion Jason Day talked about the 12th hole which has been changed to be a drivable par four.

“Depending on the setup, you’ll likely see a lot of guys lay up, probably in the first two rounds, and then kind of let it go on the weekend,” he suggested. “With regard to the green, I was here last Saturday, and it was running 12.8 (on the Stimpmeter), and that’s pretty slick.”

His plan is to lay up. When he played the hole Monday of this week, he found that the slope toward the water, left of the green, was a significant challenge.

“Some parts, if you dropped a ball and let it just kind of trickle down, it would go into the water,” he added. “Any sort of speed with anything is going to go in the water.”

In other words, the 12th might be the new car wreck hole.

Rory McIlroy said that in recent years, he’s learned to rein himself in to play TPC Sawgrass and have success.

“I’ve always felt that driving is a big advantage for me if I can drive the ball well, where here it’s sort of – it just doesn’t let me do that,” he explained. “I had to come to terms with that and come to terms with hitting the ball in the same position as everyone else off the tee, and then trying to beat them in from there.”

Similarly, true golf fans will recall that Jason Day’s 2-iron was pivotal for him off the tee last year for similar reasons, and he was hitting that club because driver was too long on many holes. It’s another bit of Pete Dye dastardly design.

“Depending on where the pin is, where the tee is, I think you’re going to see a mixture of guys laying up and going for it,” he said. “If you want to drive the green, you’ve got to aim it at the water and cut it back and try to work away from it.”

Rickie Fowler said what he does will depend on the wind direction.

“For the most part, I would say there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll lay up three days and maybe go once, if not lay up four,” he said about his strategy. “That’s probably not what they want to hear with it being a drivable par four this year.”

As to his chances, he said, “I’m not always going to finish the way I did to finish – I think it was 2,4,3,3,2,3.”

Adam Scott said he thinks a lot of guys will go for the green. In his practice round he hit driver over the green and said in today’s conditions it was probably a 3-wood.

“I think that’s what’s going to happen,” he explained. “They have made it very open in front of the green. There’s nothing to stop a straight shot going right up into the middle of the green, unless it’s severely into the wind.”

He predicted eagles and birdies.

“I see guys hitting 3-woods, long hitters hitting 3-woods, and I can see Dustin (Johnson) hitting an iron on the green there,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting.”

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