PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Out and About will highlight some of the unique non-competition events and stories taking place this week at THE PLAYERS Championship. Whether it's one of the many interesting venues at TPC Sawgrass, or an unique fan, we'll get Out and About each day.
FURYK'S BIRTHDAY CROWD
Jim Furyk turns 42 on Saturday, the day of the third round at THE PLAYERS Championship, and he certainly will have a lot of family around to celebrate his birthday. Better yet, they'll be able to celebrate on the golf course, as he finished Friday afternoon at 2 under to make sure he was around for the weekend.
"He missed the cut last year and that was very hard," said wife Tabitha. "He loves this tournament and would love to have a chance to one day win it. "
Tabitha handed out over 40 passes this week to friends and family looking forward to following her husband. The couple also invites the classmates for their two children.
"We will have a lot of support this weekend," Tabitha said. "That's for sure." Furyk's parents, Mike and Linda, were both in attendance Friday to watch their son, Tabitha's parents Bob and Linda Skartved also joined the group.
TAKING IT ALL IN
The "Honorary Observers" program, in which selected corporate sponsor representatives can walk inside the ropes during the competition for the entire round, was unveiled this week for the first time at THE PLAYERS.
Several groups went out with PGA TOUR players Thursday and Friday, including Jody Phillips and Richard Walther -- who teamed up to walk with the group of 2011 PLAYERS champion K.J. Choi, 2008 champion Sergio Garcia and 2010 winner Tim Clark.
Phillips, a CFO with Exactech in Gainesville, Fla., and a 20-year veteran attendee of THE PLAYERS, said he received a call a few days ago from FedEx, explaining, "I have a deal for you."
"When I found out the pairing, I was extremely excited," Phillips said.
Walther is a Jacksonville-based vice president of Survitec Survival Products. The two patrons were honored at the No. 1 tee by being announced to the crowd, then shaking Choi's hand and posing for a quick picture before the group teed off.
BUD'S BUDS SHOW SUPPORT
Despite missing the cut after shooting 6 over in his first PLAYERS, Bud Cauley gained a fan club out of the week on his home course.
"Bud's Buds" was the brainchild of a group of friends from Windsor Parke Golf Club in Jacksonville, where Cauley grew up. Joe Carr, a longtime golfer at Windsor Parke, had 50 T-shirts made up in Cauley's beloved Crimson Tide colors of his alma mater, Alabama. The T-shirts feature an image of Coach Paul Bryant's famed houndstooth hat on the front, along with the name of the new club "Bud's Buds."
"Bud had no idea about the shirts," Carr said. "The Bear Bryant hat made him proud. He really appreciated everything we've done. We printed 50 shirts to start and there will be more."
About 25 members of the group followed Cauley on Friday until the last putt was made on 18. Carr admits that the club doesn't have the following yet that Funk's Punks once did here at TPC Sawgrass, or even Choi's Bois.
Carr has also set the wheels in motion for Cauley's next PGA TOUR stop at the Colonial, sending shirts to Texas for distribution and to assure representation for Bud's Buds in the gallery.
Perhaps it's not coincidental that the above-mentioned other two clubs that have been seen over the years at Sawgrass each cheered on their player to an eventual PLAYERS championship.
'RAPP' SESSION WITH FANS
THE PLAYERS Executive Director Matt Rapp sat down with fans Friday in The Grove and listened to their stories, as well as suggestions they had on how to improve THE PLAYERS in future years.
"They're coming in here to relax and have a good time," said Rapp. "Some do the trifecta -- they go to the Hall of Fame, play golf and watch THE PLAYERS. Others just vacation and make THE PLAYERS part of it. I like getting to know the fans, finding out who they are and where they are from."
One Tennessee couple could have gone anywhere with their four sons and daughter, but chose THE PLAYERS for what they hope is the first of many golf trips together.
THE DOCTOR IS IN
Sports psychologist Dr. Leah Lagos was doing a little work in the field on Friday at THE PLAYERS.
Following a group of PGA TOUR professionals with a pad and a pen, Lagos was observing to look for behavior patterns when the golfers are put in situations of stress.
"Competition itself increases stress -- particularly the 17th hole, which is notorious for causing stress," Lagos said. "I look for symptoms of stress and there are different signals. Some players could have a sensitivity to sound and they'll hush the crowd or have their caddie hush the crowd. Other signs are lack of focus like looking into crowds for long periods of time. You may see golfers watching a shot too long, which tells me they're self-evaluating critically."
Lagos said sometimes the solutions to dealing with stress on a golf course are fairly simple.
"When we get stressed, our automatic nervous system kicks in and everything goes into high gear," she said. "We have to have a more conscious effort to slow things down. Maybe we need to breathe, or joke around with the caddie."
Lagos isn't really concerned with statistics or the scoring results in a tournament. "One of the shifts I focus on is the feeling as opposed to the outcome."
Based in Manhattan, Lagos has clients worldwide from rowing, tennis, gymnastics, the NFL and professional golf.
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