Golf fans eager to watch The Players practice rounds

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Day 1 of practice rounds for fans at The Players is off to a fast start. Many fans were out early Tuesday to get in as soon as gates opened.

“The last time we got here early in the morning, it was really hot. But I think it will most likely stay cool before it gets hot later,” said Eugene Jackson, Jr.

Jackson and his father were out at TPC Sawgrass early, watching players warm up at the practice facility before heading out onto the course to watch some of the best golfers in the world play with a lot less pressure than they will face later in the week.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Tiger (Woods). Definitely looking forward to seeing some guys do what they do,” he said.

Fans this year will get to see all 50 players ranked in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings, marking the first time that has happened since the 2016 U.S. Open. Because of that, many fans are trying to get autographs early in the week. And, unsurprisingly, many have their priorities.

"Rickie (Fowler) is probably my favorite player, so probably his. Just a little bit of everyone. Just go around to try to get the best people, best players that I like," said Hunter Taylor, who drove up from Central Florida for the event.

"Rory (McIlroy) would be my favorite," said Phillip Dunham, who added that he got McIlroy’s autograph last year but wants to get a second one this year.

Fans Tuesday will also get to see up close how the tournament and PGA Tour show their thanks to the military. Military Appreciation Day will be capped off by a ceremony honoring military members at 5:30 p.m. on the 17th hole. Afterward, country music superstar Luke Combs will play a live show.