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Military honored at The Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The first day TPC Sawgrass opened to the public on Players week is also Military Appreciation Day.  Tuesday's activities culminate with country stars Big & Rich headlining a concert on the clubhouse lawn at 6 p.m.

Thousands took the opportunity Tuesday to come out and watch the world's best golfers practice on the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course.

The concert included pageantry by military personnel, a flyover and a National Anthem performance by rising country artist Cali Rodi, as well as several speakers.

In addition to celebrating service members on Tuesday, The Players provides all career military (active duty, reserve, military retirees and dependents) with complimentary admission to the tournament all week and discounted admission for veterans (To obtain vouchers, go to pgatour.com/theplayers and click on the Tickets & Parking link).

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Throughout tournament week, all active duty and reserve military members, military retirees, and their dependents will have access to the Birdies for the Brave Patriots' Outpost, a hospitality tent near the tee at No. 16, which is reserved exclusively for the military and offers complimentary food, beverages and activities.

The outpost opened Tuesday, and many of the military personnel who took advantage said they appreciate having a place to cool off and take a break, while still watching golf.

"What TPC is doing, as far as how the set up is with Military Appreciation is just above and beyond," said Cmdr. Richard Kelly, Operations Officer with Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic. "The programs that give back to the military and the children of the military has been unbelievable."

Kelly and Capt. Randy Stearns, commander F-18 Wing Naval Station Oceana, are coordinating Tuesday's flyover of four F-18s from Naval Station Oceana. The fighter jets await their cue to head over the course, timing out the flyover with the National Anthem.

"We know how fast the singer will sing, about 71 seconds," Stearns said. "They will set the timing up there. What these guys do in combat and in training, they are just putting to use here."

In 2014, The Players issued more than 21,000 complimentary military tickets and more than 14,000 military members and their families were hosted in the Patriots' Outpost.