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Business Brief: The Players Sees Ticket Sales Uptick With Return To March

TPC Sawgrass clubhouse
Jacksonville Daily Record

The Players Championship is moving back to its original spot in March this year.

In this Business Brief, Jacksonville Daily Record Associate Editor David Cawton tells WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo the change looks like a hole-in-one for organizers.

Technically, it will be winter when The Players Championship is held March 12-17 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

But after moving the tournament this year from its previous schedule in May, the promise of springlike weather in a chilly time of year is attracting more attention, said tournament Executive Director Jared Rice.

“We’re seeing a lot of uptick in interest from national and international partners,” Rice said Monday during a Media Day event for the golf tournament.

“I do think that ties into the climate dollars, companies looking for a warmer climate in the first part of the year,” he said.

Besides attracting more sponsors looking for a warm spot in winter, the new date is helping general ticket sales, Rice said.

“We’re outpacing where we were a year ago by 10 percent,” he said.

Rice said he has seen particular interest in ticket sales in markets like Charlotte, Orlando and Atlanta, which are in driving distance of Northeast Florida. But there also have been sales to fans in New York and Chicago.

The Players was held at TPC Sawgrass in March from 1982 until it was moved to May in 2007.

However, as part of an adjustment to the PGA Tour schedule, the Players is moving back to March this year and the PGA Championship, one of golf’s four major championships, is moving from August to May.

The Players is considered by many golf fans to be the biggest tournament outside of the four majors because its field is limited to the top golfers on the PGA Tour.

The new schedule that puts the Players before the Masters tournament in April and the other three major championships gives it a bigger spotlight, Rice said.

Last years’ Players champion, Webb Simpson, also likes the change in scheduling.

“This is the first really big tournament of the year,” Simpson said.

“I think the new date is going to make the event even bigger and more special.”

The TPC Sawgrass course is known for the 17th hole and its island green, where the Players held a charity shootout Monday.

Simpson said the big crowds at the 17th and the difficulty of hitting the green can be challenging, but he enjoys it.

“It’s a great golf hole and I hope it never changes,” he said.