Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Notebook; 'Dogs Having Their Day on Tour

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Notebook; 'Dogs Having Their Day on Tour

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

What's in the water at the University of Georgia Golf Course?

In the past year, Bubba Watson won the Masters and one other Tour title. Hudson Swafford and Russell Henley are the last two winners of the Nationwide Tour's Stadion Classic (located, conveniently, at the UGa course); Chris Kirk won on the PGA Tour during his rookie season of 2011 and this week, Harris English and Brian Harman are in contention in their first starts in The Players Championship.

English (-7) birdied his last two holes, Nos. 17 and 18, to finish with a 67 Friday at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course and is one shot behind the leaders.

Harman, over the cut line at the turn, shot 5-under 31 on the front nine of the Stadium Course (his back) and with a 68 finished at 3-under.

Watson, Kirk, Henley and English have combined for five pro victories in the past year, with English winning on the Nationwide Tour at the Children's Hospital Invitational. Now, English and Harman are poised to contend for the Tour's biggest title.

"It just goes to show you what a good job coach [Chris] Haack has done recruiting," English said. "We didn't win a national championship every year [Haack's teams have won two in 16 years], but we were really close every year I played. It's just an awesome place to be a part of."

TIGER AND A JAGUAR

Moving to Jacksonville had a unique perk for Jaguars receiver Laurent Robinson, who joined the team in free agency this spring.

Robinson got to take in his first PGA Tour event and see Tiger Woods play live.

"This is fun, man," Robinson said. "We started off going to the Jaguars den, got some food, met some people, signed a few autographs and then came out here and ... then we got to see Tiger tee off on the 10th tee so it was pretty good. We followed him ever since. I love Tiger. I compare myself to Tiger when I'm out there on the golf course even though I ain't no good."

The Jaguars begin organized team activities next week, when Robinson expects to meet receiver Justin Blackmon, the team's first-round draft pick.

"I'll actually probably meet him Monday and get rolling from there," Robinson said. "I'm excited about him being here and us picking him in the draft. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people this year."

ATTENDANCE ON RISE

Although Players Championship officials don't have specific attendance numbers yet, executive director Matt Rapp said crowds both Thursday and Friday were up about 20 percent over the same days last year, with more than 30,000 fans on the course at any given time from mid-morning to the time competition finished.

There were traffic delays, with a wait of nearly 90 minutes some of the day to get from the intersection of Butler Boulevard and A1A to the public lots, due in part to two funeral processions on Florida 210 during the day. However, Rapp said once fans got to the course, the delays were forgotten.

"Everyone is having a blast," he said. "Even though we had some traffic delays, the parking lot moved smoothly all day and everyone enjoyed the new hospitality areas and the golf was great. …

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