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Nico Echavarria's path to THE PLAYERS

Echavarria, who lives in Jacksonville, won last week's Puerto Rico Open to qualify for THE PLAYERS. He missed four straight cuts prior to last week's victory.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — 32 first timers are competing in this week's PLAYERS. Among them, Nico Echavarria, who up until last Sunday wasn't even planning on competing in this year's tournament.

"It was gratifying. I mean, it made me prove to myself that I'm better than I thought I was," Echavarria said.

After missing four straight cuts, Echavarria won last week's Puerto Rico Open to qualify for THE PLAYERS.

Echavarria found something at the range last Friday and closed with a 65 and 68 to beat Akshay Bhatia by two strokes for his third career victory.

"You just gotta keep your feet on the ground and just enjoy life and not worry about results too much. And you start growing as a person when stuff like that happens and I did," Echavarria said.

According to Echavarria, he grinded for some time without the desired results.

But he soon realized he had to be in the right mental space before he could get to where he wanted to be.

"Your mind has to be connected to your body. And I switched the chip last week and I was thankful for where I was and what I was doing and I'm lucky to be on the PGA Tour and I'm lucky to be here at TPC," Echavarria said.

And now he's competing at THE PLAYERS alongside 143 of the top golfers in the world.

"I'm gonna take this the best way I can and try to not change the way I am too much," Echavarria said.

Echavarria's win in Puerto Rico makes him just the third Colombian to win on the PGA Tour, joining Sebastian Munoz and Camilo Villegas.

After shooting 1-under par during Thursday's first round at THE PLAYERS, Echavarria shot a 79 during Friday's second round which dropped him to six over par. Unfortunately, he missed the cut heading into the weekend.

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