PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – As World Number One-ranked professional golfer Jason Day was making history on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass – becoming the first wire-to-wire winner in 16 years at the 2016 PLAYERS Championship and one of only four players since 1970 to go wire-to-wire twice in the same season, the tournament was making its own historic impact on the community. A record 32,000 military guests attended THE PLAYERS as guests of the PGA TOUR, increasing last year’s totals by more than 10,000. In addition, a record 5,000 military members, veterans and their guests attended the tournament on Tuesday, which was designated as Military Appreciation Day at THE PLAYERS.
Highlighting Military Appreciation Day activities was a military appreciation ceremony on the iconic 17th hole emcee’d by NBC Sportscaster Dan Hicks featuring a military flyover and a variety of military pageantry, with special guests General Mark Welsh, Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, and PGA TOUR Player Jerry Kelly in attendance. The ceremony culminated with a concert by country music artist Toby Keith, who dedicated his performance to all of the military guests in attendance. The 17th hole was an apt backdrop for Keith, whose chart-topping career includes the release of 17 albums.
Earlier in the day, THE PLAYERS underscored its support for our military by conducting an opening ceremony of the Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost military hospitality chalet hosted by PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, featuring several special presentations to K9s For Warriors and two sailors who assisted with lifesaving efforts during the Chattanooga shootings in July 2015, as well as a re-enlistment ceremony for a local U.S. Marine with assistance from General Welsh. That afternoon, long-time military supporter Stryker teamed with Birdies for the Brave and K9s For Warriors to announce its sponsorship of a service dog for the benefit of a future veteran with PTSD or TBI, with Keith making a special appearances to personally thank military members in attendance.
Other Birdies for the Brave military outreach and appreciation activities that took place during the week included a veterans’ career fair in the Patriots’ Outpost; an Operation Shower group baby shower for 40 military moms-to-be whose spouses are deployed members of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, which was hosted by Tabitha Furyk – wife of PGA TOUR player Jim Furyk; and a Callaway Warrior Club Fitting on the practice facility at TPC Sawgrass, where two local wounded heroes had the opportunity to be fitted with their own set of custom Callaway golf clubs and receive tips from PGA TOUR players.
For more information about Birdies for the Brave, visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org or follow them on Facebook.