Jacksonville’s Len Mattiace qualifies for Furyk and Friends

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 28: PGA Tour player Len Mattiace acknowledges the crowd after hitting the ceremonial first tee shot during a regional round of The Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at TPC Sawgrass on September 28, 2019 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images for DC&P Championship) (Sam Greenwood, 2019 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A field full of big game golfers has added another recognizable name.

Jacksonville resident Len Mattiace was one of four men to earn a spot in the inaugural Constellation Furyk and Friends tournament through a Monday qualifier at Eagle Harbor Golf Club.

Mattiace, who won twice in his PGA Tour career, shot 5-under par 67 to join Roger Rowland (7-under 65), Keith Horne and Jesus Rivas (both 4-under 68) in earning spots in the field.

“What a great thing for Jim and Tabitha (Furyk) to put together,” Mattiace said. “What a great thing to come to Jacksonville and Timuquana is a great site. Everything about this event is great. The field is--I don’t think it gets any stronger. The time of year, everything is great. So when this came on the schedule, this is absolutely an event that we all want to play. And I’ve only played in two champions events this year. So this was definitely on my map, and I was able to qualify.”

Among the notable names in the field for the tournament, scheduled to be held Friday through Sunday at Timuquana Country Club are the host, Jim Furyk, reigning PGA champion Phil Mickelson, both captains from the recently completed Ryder Cup, Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington, two-time Players Championship winner David Love III, three0timne major championship winner Vijay Singh, former world’s number one David Duval and 1992 Masters champion and two-time Players Championship winner Fred Couples.

Also in the field, a man familiar to Mattiace. Mike Weir, who beat Mattiace in a playoff to win the Masters in 2003. Would Mattiace want another shot at Weir this week?

“I’m happy to be paired with whoever they want me to play with,” Mattiace said. “Fred Couples, (Bernard) Langer. Ernie Else is playing, Davis (Love III), Mickelson. Other than a major, I don’t think the field gets any stronger.”

Surprisingly, Mattiace says he has only played Timuquana a handful of times. The last time he played there was at an event for his foundation last spring before COVID began to shut down events. He expects the competitors to enjoy the Donald Ross design.

“The greens are small, fairways are tight and it’s a short walking course,” Mattiace said. “It bodes itself well for spectators coming out walking the holes with players kind of seeing TIMA quantum maybe for the first time at a tournament site.”

Mattiace hopes the tournament will showcase parts of Jacksonville not usually seen by golfers who come to compete in The Players.

“Hopefully they can go downtown and see some of the restaurants and how beautiful the city is,” Mattiace said. “Usually when they come to The Players, they have they come right into Ponte Vedra. They stay in Ponte Vedra, when the tournament when the players is over, they usually just leave. (The St. Johns) River is so pretty that hopefully they can take advantage of some of the viewing spots, San Marco and Riverside, it’s all good.”

For fans who are used to attending The Players, Mattiace says attending a PGA Tour Champions event gives fans a chance to get up closer to the action that they can at a big PGA Tour event, like the one held in Ponte Vedra.

“I think you can be shoulder,” Mattiace said. “You can be within steps of the Mickelsons and the Furyks and the Davis Loves…the hall of famers in the field. The ropes, you’re a little closer, and you don’t have you know, the sometimes the tour events you have 60,000 to 80,000 people like in Phoenix, you might have 100,000 people there in a day. So these champions events are more community based where you know, the crowds aren’t as thick and you can get really close to kind of see in person with the players are like.”

About the Author:

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.