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18 golfers take first swing at Players Championship

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Ponte Vedra resident Jim Furyk is about to play in his 20th Players Championship. He said that it has taken him that many years to learn the ins and outs on the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course.

There are 18 golfers in the field this week that do not have that luxury.

The annual first-timers meet and greet was Wednesday morning on the front lawn of the clubhouse. 

"I'm going to treat it as one of the majors, and I can't wait to get out there on Thursday," said Derek Fathauer.

Fathauer won the Web.com Tour Championship on the Valley Course in 2014, earning him an invitation to The Players this week. Even though he said he's played the Stadium Course before, it's a different ballgame this week.

"The Valley Course is hard now, don't get me wrong, but with all the fans, cameras, media and everything, it's going to be crazy," Fathauer said.

Brendon Todd is another first-timer this year. He made it a point to practice with veterans this week who know the course.

"I played with Geoff Oglivy on the back nine yesterday," Todd said. "He gave me some good advice on the par-5 11th hole on where to lay it up, so that was great."

On the other hand, former Florida State Seminole Brooks Koepka said he tried to avoid advice as much as possible.

"I know the course well. I'm from a few hours away and am pretty familiar with it," Koepka said. "If I'm playing as well as I know I can play, it should be a good week."

Fellow Seminole Daniel Berger had a similar approach to practice rounds. He said that one round is enough for him.

"I've found that to be best for me," Berger said. "I like to get out there and get my work in early. If I see it once, I'm good."

Berger and the 17 other first timers begin their first Players Championship Thursday morning.