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Large group of first timers aim to take home THE PLAYERS trophy

32 first timers are competing in this week's PLAYERS Championship, including last week's winner at Bay Hill Kurt Kitayama and local golfer Nico Echavarria.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — It's hard enough to play any course for the first time, let alone TPC Sawgrass. But for 32 of the world's top golfers, they're ready to take on the challenge.

"I got on the grounds Monday afternoon and my first thought was 'It feels like a major championship," first-timer Greyson Sigg said.

Greyson Sigg says TPC Sawgrass is in a class by itself and demands a lot out of the best golfers in the world.

"It tests every part of your game. You got to drive it well. You got to hit your irons good and make some putts if you want to be up at the top by the end of the week," Sigg said.

Erik Barnes was stacking shelves at Publix a couple years ago.

Now he's competing in THE PLAYERS after earning his PGA Tour card on last season's Korn Ferry Tour.

"There's a lot of guys like that. I mean, a couple years ago Ben Griffin I think was a loan advisor. Kevin Roy was...what four or five years ago he was not playing golf I think he was selling insurance. There's so many guys that were doing the same things just to provide for their families," Barnes said.

PLAYERS first-timer Andrew Novak, one of two Wofford grads to play on the PGA Tour, says he feels like THE PLAYERS is a wide open tournament.

"There's not really guys dominating, I think it kind of keeps it open for anybody because it's very much position golf. You gotta hit your ball pretty straight. And then who's gonna be making the putts that week, who's keeping the ball on grass, out of the pine straw, out of the water," Novak said.

Most of these guys are in favor of the new rules coming to the PGA Tour in 2024, specifically additional designated events with no cuts.

"The one thing that they're doing is it's kind of basing it more on meritocracy where you can play your way into it if you're a rookie or like a lower-end player who hasn't gotten as much experience or you could fall out if you're not playing that well and you're at the top so it's kind of that balance of getting people who are the hottest players on tour and the guys who are at the top," first-timer Dylan Wu said.

It took a variety of paths for these guys to get to THE PLAYERS. Now, they're hoping for four more great rounds of golf and a chance to become a PLAYERS champion.

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