PONTE VEDRA, Fla. -- In what has become an annual tradition for many people on the First Coast, crowds packed TPC Sawgrass Saturday to watch the best golfers in the world compete.
While The Players always draws a large attendance, thousands of people followed one man from tee-to-tee Saturday morning: Tiger Woods.
“We saw a lot following him yesterday but now that he’s really playing well … it’s amazing,” Ponte Vedra Beach resident Jamie Gaskins said. “I love seeing the comeback, we all do.”
Gaskins said he and his family come to The Players every year.
“Come out with friends typically on Friday, then bring the kids out on Saturday and Sunday,” Gaskins said. “It’s just a whole lot of fun.”
Laura and Rob Thomas stood nearby, letting the crowd clear after Tiger Woods finished the hole.
“Well [Tiger] brought about 60,000 friends with him on his way through, so that was exciting,” Rob Thomas said. “It’s nice to see him playing well today. It’s really cool to see him shooting low numbers.”
“I want to see Tiger making that push up to the top, so we’ll see,” Laura Thomas added.
The Thomas’, who live in Jacksonville Beach, have been coming to The Players every year since they moved there in 2010.
“You cannot get this close at any other tournament so this is amazing,” Laura Thomas said.
In the end, only one man will raise the Waterford Trophy. The trophy itself is a work of art that takes 40-50 hours to make.
“Twenty-one different people actually hold this in their hand to make sure it’s perfect before it leaves the factory gates back in Waterford, Ireland,” said Tom Brennan, master artisan and spokesperson for Waterford Crystal.
For the second year, Brennan will hold the honor of etching the winner’s name into the trophy.
“It shoots out fine sand at very high velocity right into the crystal,” Brennan said. “So we etch the name of the winner on it. I don’t know, obviously, until like 10 seconds before who’s going to win it so I’m there on standby pretty much an hour before with the name of all the golfers, because it can be anybody.”
“It’s all about the winner tomorrow,” Brennan said. “So it’s going to make me proud when he lifts up that Waterford Crystal trophy above his head and I go ‘I’m a little piece of that.’ So that’s kind of cool.”