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Raulerson, Blixt, Funk shine at THE PLAYERS 17th Hole Charity Challenge

April 12, 2013

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – “This is the best part of being on the PGA TOUR.” That was PGA TOUR winner Jonas Blixt’s take when asked his thoughts on raising money for charity after his shot at the famous 17th hole at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass finished nine inches from the cup. Blixt’s remarkable shot was good enough for second place to earn $5,000 for Big Brothers, Big Sisters as several celebrities competed as part of THE PLAYERS 17th Hole Charity Challenge.

Former PGA TOUR member Charles Raulerson won the first round as representatives from fifteen local charities took aim at the island green. Raulerson’s first-round shot finished at 6’ 2” to win $10,000 for the local First Tee Chapter. The next five players on the leaderboard (Blixt, 2005 PLAYERS Champion Fred Funk, PGA TOUR player David Lingmerth, PGA TOUR and Champions Tour player Bob Dickson and former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunnel) stepped back to the tee to shoot again for the second-place prize.

In the second round, Funk went first. The local favorite, whose fun-loving attitude entertained the crowd on hand and the other contestants, hit it to 1 foot. Putting the pressure on the other competitors, Funk began talking a little trash telling Blixt, from Sweden, that the shot was for America. Blixt responded with a shot that nearly fell in the hole, rolling off the lip to finish nine inches away.

“It was awesome. I thought it was over when Fred knocked it stiff right in front of me. You know, he gets a little cocky, takes things a little personal. It was great to hit it stiff and look over at him,” Blixt said jokingly.

“I feel like playing on the PGA TOUR almost comes second. What we get to do for charity, what the PGA TOUR gives back to the community, I think that’s the greatest thing about playing on the PGA TOUR,” Blixt added.

Members of the community and of the participating charities couldn’t agree more.

“THE PLAYERS is the premier event in Jacksonville and I’ve lived here for 50 years,” said Warren Grymes, Chief Executive Office for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “What they do for charity is unbelievable. They’ve helped Big Brothers Big Sisters and so many organizations with millions of dollars that flow through to the tournament every year to local charities. THE PLAYERS helps develop and strengthen this community every year.”

“It was pretty nerve-racking. It’s all for great causes. I’m proud to be here for Teach for America. It was a blast being with the other competitors. It was so much fun,” said Gary Chartrand, chairman of Acosta Sales & Marketing and also chairman of the Florida Board of Education. “Thank God for THE PLAYERS. They do so much for the community. Education, youth development and character development are big parts of what they do. We are so blessed to have THE PLAYERS as part of our community.”

Fifteen local charities that are beneficiaries of THE PLAYERS Championship were invited to participate. Those charities and the celebrities selected represent them include:   
•    Big Brothers Big Sisters   (Jonas Blixt, PGA TOUR)
•    Boselli Foundation  (Tony Boselli)
•    Brunell Family Foundation (Mark Brunell)
•    Junior Achievement (David Lingmerth, PGA TOUR)
•    Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation  (Fred Funk, 2005 PLAYERS champion)
•    The MaliVai Washington Kids Foundation  (Stuart Impey, financial advisor who played professional golf in the United States and Europe)
•    The McKenzie Noelle Wilson Foundation (Blake Wilson, in honor of his daughter, McKenzie)
•    North Florida Junior Golf Foundation  (Bob Dickson, former PGA TOUR and Champions Tour member)
•    Police Athletic League of Jacksonville (Taylor Funk, son of Fred Funk)
•    St. Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation  (Clint Avret, head golf pro at Timuquana Country Club)
•    Take Stock in Children (Jason Wade)
•    Teach for America  (Gary Chartrand, chairman of Acosta Sales & Marketing; chairman of the Florida Board of Education)
•    Tom Coughlin Jay Fund  (Curtis Dvorak, VP for Mascot Operations, Jacksonville Jaguars)
•    The First Tee (Charles Raulerson, former PGA TOUR member; Raulerson School of Golf at Orange Park Country Club)
•    Wolfson Children’s Hospital  (Josh Scobee, Jacksonville Jaguars placekicker)

THE PLAYERS will return to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, May 6-12, 2013. More information about THE PLAYERS is available at PGATOUR.COM/theplayers.  Tickets are available on line, at area Publix or at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse.

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