KJ Choi wins the 2011 Players on Day 3

If you’ve missed the first few, check out Day One and Day Two of the Florida’s First Coast of Golf Experience to catch up.

The day’s Fila Golf Apparel was the black Le Man’s Polo and a white Torino Cap worn by the illustrious Orlando Golf Blogger and the silver Madrid Polo and a green Torino Cap worn by Don the marketing wiz.

Day 3 is all about the 2011 Players Championship. East Coast Transportation picked us up at noon and was able to get us as far as the security checkpoint before he had to turn around, saving us a good bit of a walk.

Our primary objective, aside from being in the Hospitality House in time to see the marquee group tee off on sixteen, was to walk all eighteen holes following various golfers along the way.

We started out in the grandstands on #1 and watched a couple of groups tee off, drooling at seeing those driver swings in person. We followed the 1:20 group of Luke Donald, Steve Stricker and Nick Watney for the first three holes and then made a beeline to the Hospitality House for some lunch and refreshments.

We then walked to eighteen and navigated our way back to the 4th hole just in time to see Dustin Johnson toss a kid his golf ball, that he just used to Birdie the hole. It was funny because he was eying us and eying the kids and, unfortunately, the kids got the memento with a deft behind the back golf ball toss. 🙂

Afterwards, the kid found his voice and said “Hey Dustin, I’m also from Columbia, SC!” That was a pretty cool moment, the kid found a hometown hero to model himself after in golf’s professional arena.

We stuck around the 4th green for a bit, watching the players and chatting with the volunteers about the hole and where most have been playing their shots and getting opinions on the best place to land them.

We then followed the Bubba Watson, Martin Laird and Hunter Haas group back towards the 18th. On the 6th hole, Bubba hit a bad tee shot and was in the pine needles under a tree and as he was practicing his swing, he was muttering “Argh, Bubba, more bad decisions?” as he went for the pin. Found that especially gratifying, the fact that even the professionals sometimes don’t back down from an obvious bad shot.

Also caught Ian Poulter giving a high-five to a little girl of no more than eight, who was obviously smitten. I’m not sure if she’ll ever wash that hand. 🙂

Fast Forward to the end of the day, back in the Hospitality House, we were able to witness the playoff and obviously, you know that K.J. Choi wins the 2011 Players Championship.

I wanted Choi to win, but I was hoping for a more epic battle. He’s an awesome player with a steady game who always seems unflappable. Blair said that on the practice days, he spent hours signing autographs and interacting with the fans.

The thing I enjoyed most about attending the 2011 Players Championship was getting to see the stuff that they don’t show on TV. Things like observing the way players interact with one another, sometimes joking as they walk, or chatting with spectators, or complementing others on a well struck shot.

Also, watching rule breakers get swarmed by volunteers and officials like they were the secret service thwarting an assassination attempt of the president.

These are some of the moments you don’t see when in the comfort of your own home or at the sports bar and they add a bit of character to the event.

After the mass exodus of spectators, we departed and once back in the hotel room, we sat around with Blair sharing scotch and stories as a farewell toast, in true writer’s fashion. At least, I think that’s how they do it. 🙂

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