First time’s a charm: THE PLAYERS welcomes several new golfers


First time’s a charm: THE PLAYERS welcomes several new golfers

The 2016 edition of THE PLAYERS will see an abundance of first-time participants, with more than 20 players competing at TPC Sawgrass for the first time.

PGA TOUR winners Emiliano Grillo, Fabian Gomez, Jim Herman, Peter Malnati, Smylie Kaufman and Tony Finau headline the group of Sawgrass newcomers. An international crop of players will also make their PLAYERS debut, including Andy Sullivan and Matthew Fitzpatrick of England, Byeong-Hun An and Si Woo Kim of South Korea, Carlos Ortiz of Mexico, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain.

Andres Gonzales, Hudson Swafford, Jon Curran, Kyle Reifers, Patton Kizzire, Scott Pinckney, Steve Wheatcroft, Will Wilcox, Zac Blair, Jamie Lovemark, Harold Varner III and Patrick Rodgers round out the list of first-timers.

Kaufman, Grillo, Kizzire and Varner currently hold first, second, third and fourth ranks, respectively, among top contenders for Rookie of the Year during the 2015-2016 season. Kaufman’s FEC Rank is 11, with Grillo following at 22, Kizzire at 30 and Varner at 71.

Jacksonville area leaves its mark

The First Coast will be well represented at this year’s PLAYERS tournament, with several local golfers representing the Jacksonville area. In addition to Jim Furyk – who returns following a wrist injury and a return to competition at the Wells Fargo Championship – Billy Horschel will be on hand, hoping to join the ranks of local PLAYERS champions Mark McCumber, David Duval and Fred Funk. Also participating will be 2015 Memorial Tournament winner David Lingmerth, 2015 WGC-HSBC Champions winner Russell Knox, World Golf Hall of Famer Vijay Singh, two-time Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Matt Every and upstart player Jonas Blixt.