The Furyks are throwing a party on one of the most historic Donald Ross golf courses in the south and they have a message.
They all eat.
PGA Tour Champions Golf returns to the First Coast for the first time in 19 years as the Constellation Furyk & Friends tournament takes place October 8-10 at Timuquana Country Club, one of the oldest continuously operating clubs in Florida.
There, 17-time PGA Tour winner Jim Furyk and his wife Tabitha are holding the first PGA Tour Champions event in the area since 2002 between fairways lined with Spanish moss-drenched trees on the banks of the St. Johns River Year of Legends of Golf in the World Golf Hall of Fame King & Bear.
It is a new generation of Champions Tour stars who are putting their skills to the test on the meandering fairways and tricky push-up greens of Timuquana.
The field is led by reigning PGA champion Phil Mickelson, the oldest player in history to win a major championship on Kiawah Island, SC, in May, as well as other great champions such as Schwab Cup points leader Bernhard Langer, Vijay Singh and Davis Love III, Furyk, Fred Couples, John Daly, Ernie Els, Mark O’Meara and Jose Maria Olazabal – as well as Ryder Cup captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington.
If all players who have signed up or indicated that they have signed up by October 1 show up at Timuquana, the field will have 58 former PGA Tour winners who have won 438 titles together; 20 players teaming up for 38 major championships; 56 former PGA Tour Champions winners who collectively claim 261 titles; and 23 PGA Tour Champion major winners who have won a total of 50 majors.
The tournament will be sponsored by Constellation Energy for five years – representing a $ 2.6 million charitable commitment – and the presenting sponsor is Circle K.
Further support from the company can be seen in the number of restaurants that have settled on the court (such as M Shack and Taco Lu), the participants in three Pro-Ams (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of the tournament week) and the purchase of hospitality Packages.
There will also be musical stars Darius Rucker and Scott McCreery, who will perform at a concert at Daily’s Place on October 5th.
The Furyk Factor
Why the strong support from both players, the entertainers and the First Coast business community in the first year of the tournament, right in the middle of the football season?
PGA Tour Champions President Brady Miller has a simple answer.
“It’s Jim and Tabitha,” he said of one of the First Coast’s leading power couples in golf. “They supported charities; Tabitha is on a number of boards and everyone wanted to be a part of it because of them. The question was, at what level?”
Tournament Director Adam Renfroe said there was some uncertainty about how the tournament would be received. The dates were announced several days before the tour was canceled. The players and officials have been watching the effects of the spike in COVID this summer.
Renfroe described the general response from business and fans as a “pleasant surprise”.
“It speaks to Jim and Tabitha’s relationship in Jacksonville and their charity work,” said Renfroe. “I think the corporate community feels confident that their money and sponsorship money is being used well. We are really proud of Jacksonville and the feedback we have received.”
The race for the Schwab playoffs
The competition will be important for the players as the Furyk & Friends is the penultimate tournament that secures a top 72 place in the Schwab Cup points list and qualifies for the Schwab Cup series with three tournaments.
Due to the pandemic, it was a two-year process that merged 2020 and 2021 into one race.
Langer’s runner-up to KJ Choi last week at Pebble Beach put him more than $ 164,000 ahead of Furyk, with Jerry Kelly, Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez completing the top five.
Langer is aiming for his sixth Schwab Cup title.
And what First Coast golf purist doesn’t want to see the field attack Timuquana?
“It will be built tight and quick and the greens will allow for defense,” said Furyk. “Single digits depending on the weather [under par] could win. If you hit the ball well, you will have a fair number of short irons in your hand. The par 5s are attainable. But with the push-up greens and some putts that can break a bit weird, you can also do bogeys. ”
When Furyk first approached Miller about a PGA Tour Champions event, he said they both had the same idea: to play at Timuquana.
“It’s a hidden gem,” said Miller. “I don’t think there will be any particular style preferred and I think the guys will love taking different shots in and around the greens.”
Come to golf, stay for the party
But just as it becomes a golf tournament, Tabitha Furyk wants it to be a community festival. The Players Championship 2020 has been canceled due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The 2021 Players was played with a limited audience.
Furyk & Friends could be a way for golf fans to relax in comfortable surroundings.
“We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to feel part of this tournament,” she said. “It’s very important to us that this is not just about golf, but the great food that Jacksonville restaurants have to offer and the music. It’s a party in our community and we want everyone to come . ”
There will still be security measures. All venues are open air, hand sanitizer is abundant, and social distancing is encouraged. Masks are required for people with access to the clubhouse.
But autographs are allowed, and Miller said nearly 90 percent of PGA Tour Champions members are vaccinated.
Furyk added another reason he’s excited about the tournament: Almost every player in the field has been in the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra for years, but most of them have never seen Timuquana, downtown Jacksonville, or the Ortega area seen.
“You really only saw the airport, the beach and the TPC Sawgrass,” said Furyk. “Now they will get the chance to see our inner city and the beautiful riverside areas that we have.”
PGA Tour Champions on the First Coast
Senior Players Championship
1987: Gary Player shot 8-under 208 at Sawgrass Country Club to beat Chi Chi Rodriguez and Bruce Crampton with one shot at Sawgrass Country Club.
1988: Billy Caspers 10-under 278 on the TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley Course knocked out Al Geiberger by two shots.
1989: Orville Moody lit the Valley Course with 17 under 271, the lowest 72-hole individual result in a Champions Tour event on the First Coast. He hit Charles Coody with two shots.
Legends of Golf
1998: The tournament was played at Amelia Golf Club for a year when the World Golf Hall of Fame Slammer & Squire Course was not yet ready. Charles Coody and Dale Douglass won the team competition for the third time in sudden death against Hugh Baiocchi and David Graham, after both teams finished 24 under 192.
1999: Hubert Green and Gil Morgan shot 22-under 194 in the Slammer & Squire to beat John Mahaffy and Tom Wargo by three shots.
2000: Jim Colbert and Andy North won the Slammer & Squire by 25 under 191, surpassing Bruce Fleisher and David Graham by one stroke.
2001: The same two teams stayed in the lead after a rain-shortened 36-hole event that was relocated to King & Bear. Colbert and North shot 20 under 124, defeating Fleisher and Graham in one shot.
2002: The tournament format changed for the senior division to single stroke play, whereby the income was counted for the first time. Doug Tewell defeated Bobby Wadkins with a shot at 11-under 205 at King & Bear. It was announced late that the tournament would be relocated to Savannah.