PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tyson Alexander is no stranger to the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
The past University of Florida golfer has lived in Jacksonville Beach for the past five years while he’s tried to earn his PGA Tour card. He finally broke through last year with a finish of 18th on the Korn Ferry Tour — after coming up short of the top-25 threshold the previous two years with finishes of 34th and 57th.
“I’m very familiar with the place,” Alexander said Wednesday during a news conference for first-time Players participants. “I play and practice here nearly every day when I’m home. The conditions are a little different than what I’m used to but I’m excited to get the tournament going and get started.”
Players Championship: Photos
Alexander touched on the differences between the Stadium Course the week of the Players and the other 51 weeks of the year. First Coast residents who practice there frequently don’t get the green speeds and the high rough that rules officials and the course agronomy staff strive for in giving the field of 144 as stern a test as possible.
Does that mean any perceived home-field advantage is negligible?
“There might be some truth to that,” he said. “I still think I have some advantage with some lines off the tees. Certain wind, I know which lines to take and which not to take. The chipping is harder because the firmness of the greens is more than I’m used to.”
Alexander has played a busy schedule in his rookie year. He has made 12 starts and missed five cuts, including last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
His highlight so far is a solo second in Houston. Since then, his best finish was a tie for 32nd at the Sony Open.
Alexander enters the week 51st on the FedEx Cup points list and has just more than $1 million in earnings.
“I’ve hit a lot of good shots but the two or three bad ones every day have really cost me,” he said. “If I clean up the bad ones, my good has been pretty good.”
Alexander is one of 32 first-time participants, a record for the Players. But said the eligibility requirements to get into the Players field are still stout.
“None of these guys got here by luck or an exemption,” he said. “We earned it. I think a lot of these guys are going to have a chance come Sunday.”
Alexander said being on the PGA Tour is every bit the experience he’s dreamed of his whole life.
“Life on the Tour is great,” he said. “No offense to the Korn Ferry Tour, but I don’t want to go back. Everything is better, the purses, the fields. It’s where you want to be.”
A good caddie has helped. Alexander joined forces with Adam Parmer during mid-season in 2022 and said in addition to being good friends, Parmer is good at throwing cold water on Alexander when his temper begins boiling.
“He’s a very good dude, well-rounded, very likable by a lot of people,” Alexander said. “He keeps me in check when I’m acting like a baby out there. He has the green light to whip me back into shape.”
Alexander also will have a strong local contingent of friends and family watching him play this week, led by his father, former University of Florida golf coach Buddy Alexander.
And there’s some family history at the Stadium Course: his father, the 1986 U.S. Amateur champion, lost to Tiger Woods 1 up in the round of 16 in the 1994 Amateur at the Stadium. Buddy Alexander led Woods 3 up with five holes to play before an 18-year-old Tiger went on one of his typical rallies.
“He’s driving in (on Wednesday), and he’ll be at the first tee,” Tyson said of his father. “We’re all pretty excited.”