Meeting Tom Kim, scootering to TPC Sawgrass, celebrity cameos | Rogers Report

Tom Kim at TPC Sawgrass

Tom Kim at TPC Sawgrass

Darren Riehl

Hello, friends, and happy Friday to all of you — except the volunteer who yelled at me on the 15th hole at TPC Sawgrass yesterday afternoon.

It has been an action-packed few days here at the Players, and not just for the pros! My coworkers and I have been absolutely grinding here in Ponte Vedra. But we’ve also been living the Florida dream! What does that look like?

I’ll start with Tuesday evening, when we headed to my favorite ice cream spot in the entire Sunshine State — Cookies and Creme Jax Beach! It’s a funky spot tucked into the side of a gas station, and it’s perfect.

I got a cookie dough/Oreo ice cream in between two M&M cookies.

My dessert from Cookies and Creme Jax Beach
My dessert from Cookies and Creme Jax Beach Claire Rogers

Look at that cookie to ice cream ratio!

First-timers press conference

On Wednesday morning, I headed over to the first-timers press conference, where Players Championship rookies hang out on the lawn at TPC Sawgrass, giving media the chance to get to know them better. This was definitely a highlight of my week so far, particularly because I finally got to meet the Tom Kim.

Just as I got my turn in line, someone from the Tour stopped me: could I wait a minute or two? Someone else was there to see Kim as well. And that someone was none other than Jay Monahan, hand-delivering a Tiffany box to our guy!

I was hoping the rookies received a diamond ring or other piece of fine jewlery from Monahan, but it turns out they were cufflinks.

Also, none of the players I spoke to had opened their Tiffany box yet. Is it in poor taste to open a gift on the spot nowadays? I can’t even make it from the steps of my building to my apartment door before ripping into a package, so credit to the first-timers for executing some serious self control. I selfishly wanted to see the cufflinks myself, but first-timers day wasn’t about me. After all, this is my second time at the Players.

My star co-worker Darren Riehl, came with me to the first-timers pressers to capture all of the action. Here’s how it went:

My favorite story in golf

PGA Tour rookie Tyson Alexander was at the first-timers press conference on Wednesday morning and shared what has become my favorite story in all of golf.

Alexander’s father, Bud, won the 1986 U.S. Amateur and competed on the 1987 Walker Cup team before coaching the University of Florida men’s golf team for 27 years. Bud’s father, Skip, played at Duke University before joining the PGA Tour in 1946. He won three times on Tour, and in 1950 was the lone survivor of a plane crash. Skip suffered a number of injuries and burns from the crash, and in one of his surgeries, faced with limited hand mobility, he had his hands molded in a way that he could grip a golf club. This allowed him to squeeze down on a golf club, although he couldn’t really open up his hands. Talk about love of the game! Tyson, Bud and Skip have all played in U.S. Opens, and Bud competed on Ryder Cup teams in 1949 and 1951 — both before and after the crash.

The (un)official shoe of the PGA Tour

From Footjoy to Adidas to Nike and more, the pros may be decked out in the latest cutting-edge golf shoes — but there’s another brand that is taking over the PGA Tour. I lost count of how many caddies, cameramen, photographers and on-course analysts are sporting Hokas these days.

Jim “Bones” Mackay at TPC Sawgrass Getty Images

I first learned about Hokas during the pandemic because all of my friends were suddenly going on daily neighborhood walks in them. They looked incredibly supportive and also came in extremely fun colors; I figured that’s what drew my sister Ellen to the shoes. But now that I’ve seen them dozens of times in action on the course, I’m willing to bet they’re also pretty comfortable.

If legendary PGA Tour caddie Bones Mackay is wearing ’em while at work, we should all be wearing them. I will be purchasing my first pair when I return home next week.

A Cam Smith sighting?

Darren and I joined our other coworkers Dylan Dethier and James Colgan for a Wednesday evening tee time at The Yards, just down the road from TPC Sawgrass. While I will not be commenting on the state of my own game at this time, I am more than happy to comment on the fact that Cameron Smith was spotted playing there on Thursday!

Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch was the first on that story. I would absolutely love to know how the Jacksonville local is spending his week. Is he getting stuck in Players traffic? Getting dinner with pals who are in town? Watching the tournament on television? You do have to enter the Sawgrass gates to access The Yards (they’re in the same gated community), so he was definitely seen by a few security people. And because this is the Rogers Report, I will share with you all that I have been scouring the depths of the internet for photos of the 2022 Players Championship winner at The Yards yesterday with no luck, which leads me to confidently say that there have been no public posts of his Yards appearance. As always, I’ll keep you updated if that changes.

My famous coworker

I followed the star-studded group that was Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Max Homa on Thursday afternoon. It turns out those weren’t the only stars inside the ropes! As you all should know by now, my co-worker, Dylan Dethier, was part of the Full Swing series on Netflix. At the Genesis Invitational, I started noticing him getting recognized by golf fans. This week it’s gone to another level. We reached a new level of Dethier fandom yesterday when he was asked to take a few photos with eager fans. Witnessing one of those chats was among my favorite moments of the entire week.

Miscellaneous observations

Let’s buzz through a handful of other things I’ve discovered this week at TPC Sawgrass that I want to share with you.

-Not only is Smylie Kaufman crushing it as an on-course reporter, but he’s also very much worth following on Instagram. Being pals with a lot of the guys in the field allows for some seriously fun posts and stories, a few of which I’ve shared below.

-My very favorite part of TPC Sawgrass, I’ve realized, isn’t the 17th hole! It’s the tiny bunkers placed in awkward spots all throughout the course. Shoutout to Pete Dye — if I ever play here I’m sure I’ll find myself in at least a dozen of these.

Mini bunkers at TPC Sawgrass
Mini bunkers at TPC Sawgrass Smylie Kaufman, Claire Rogers

-I’m no photographer, but I consider it my civic duty to share this image from a dreamy viewing spot behind No. 16 at golden hour.

Golden hour at TPC Sawgrass
Golden hour at TPC Sawgrass Claire Rogers

And because I know you’re all wondering: yes, I did take advantage of the light and have my colleagues take some photos of me.

Billy Horschel’s sweet ride

Courtesy cars are officially out and electric scooters are officially in. Billy Horschel arrived to the course in style (and on two wheels!) on Thursday morning. We’ve seen players arrive to the course in carts, but this is a first for me.

Will this drive scooter sales through the roof? Only time will tell. And kids, if you’re reading this, please wear a helmet if trying out the same stunt.

The Kordas!

The Thomas/Spieth/Homa group was finishing up just as the sun was setting on TPC Sawgrass, and I thought the excitement of the day was coming to a close when I spotted Nelly and Jessica Korda in the gallery! They were flying under the radar (as much as the World No. 2 and 25 could) taking in all the action from behind the ropes. Sometimes pros are just like the rest of us.

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