Review of The 2018 Pro-Am Tour Sawgrass Classic

14th – 20th May 2018

This years winners

Woodman & Scotland win at TPC Sawgrass

Former European Tour player Zane Scotland, and PGA South Region star Guy Woodman finished tied in the Pro-Am Tour’s prestigious Sawgrass Classic Pro-Am at TPC Sawgrass just 6 days after the PGA Tour’s PLAYERS Championship.


Play begins

After practice rounds on Monday The Sawgrass Classic Pro-Am was played on four superb courses in the Ponte Vedra Beach area with the final round at The PLAYERS Stadium Course.

The opening round was staged at TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley Course, which although not quite as famous as its neighbour, provided an excellent layout and fantastic course conditions. Cooden Beach Professional Paul Nessling who was defending his Sawgrass Classic Pro-Am title opened with a two under par 70 which was matched by French professional Julien Gressier, and Rochford Hundred Golf Club’s Michael Vandenberg.

That evening all the competitors assembled on the Cascades Terrace by the lagoon at the back of the hotel for a “Meet the Teams” buffet and drinks reception. This is a very popular event on the itinerary and everyone was challenged “fairground style” to hit a floating island green with a pitch shot. However, the green was 5ft wide and situated in the lagoon approximately 75 yards away. With the drinks flowing this made for great fun and created a fantastic atmosphere amongst the teams. Eighteen competitors were successful and in a sudden death play-off Jamie Little hit the green again to win a $240 voucher for TPC Sawgrass merchandise. Everyone agreed this was superb practice for another island green challenge later in the week!

“Playing the PLAYERS Stadium Course having watched the world’s greatest players play there just a few days before is a unique experience. It makes you realize not only how good the course is in terms of condition and challenge, but it also makes you realize how good the top players are to take up that challenge.”

On Wednesday, despite most competitors completing their second round at the exclusive Ponte Vedra Inn & Club Ocean Course, afternoon thunderstorms prevented last few groups finishing and Glen McPhee, the PGA Rules had to cancel the round for the professionals. As per the tournament conditions team scores counted for the number of holes completed by every team.

Better weather returned for the next tournament round at the King & Bear Course and despite a short weather delay for a lunchtime thunderstorm Guy Woodman would shoot a superb 68 to take the lead. A few of the competitors visited the nearby World Golf Hall of Fame which is a museum dedicated to the greats of the game of golf.


The final Saturday

The final Saturday round saw the competitors experience the tournament condition of the extremely challenging PLAYERS Stadium Course with the grandstands still in place. Many considered it to be the best course they had ever played, and certainly one of the toughest!

Despite a birdie at the famous 17th hole, Woodman would take a double bogey at the last for a 73 to set a target of 5 under par for the tournament. In an extremely exciting finish both Nessling and Gressier would come up one shot shy of the target. However, Zane Scotland would shoot the round of the day, and possibly the round of the week, with a sensational 68 to tie Woodman for the title.

In the Pro-Am team event, after a steady start, Andy Raitt’s team of John Webb, Stephen Johnson & James Hardwick would establish a large lead at the King & Bear Course and would cruise to victory in the final round at TPC Sawgrass. Paul Nessling’s team finished in second place on countback over Giles Velvick’s team.

“Playing the PLAYERS Stadium Course having watched the world’s greatest players play there just a few days before is a unique experience. It makes you realize not only how good the course is in terms of condition and challenge, but it also makes you realize how good the top players are to take up that challenge.”

Challenge day

During the event a Challenge Day was also held on Thursday at The PLAYERS Stadium Course where tournament organiser, John Hooper, challenged the professionals to break 80 from the back “TPC” tees. Successful professionals were rewarded with a $200 bonus, and at the end of the day eight professionals broke 80: Andy Raitt, Giles Velvick, Paul Nessling, Michael Vandenberg, Julien Gressier, Guy Woodman, James Davies & Matt Stables. Andy Raitt also won the separate stableford competition on the day with a superb 38 points.

A number of separate challenges took place including nearest the pin at 13 and 17, long drive at 16, as well as a 2s club at 17, and a sweepstake for the number of first tee-shots in the water at 17. Graham Stone cleaned up in the 2s club at 17, with the sole birdie of the day – his birdie putt from six feet earning him $385, and 48 players put their first tee-shot in the water at 17, the number drawn by James Healey.

The results

Professional individuals

ProfessionalRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Total
1st=Zane Scotland
PGA EuroPro Tour
727168211 (-5)
1st=Guy Woodman
716773211 (-5)
3rd=Paul Nessling
Cooden Beach Golf Club
707171212 (-4)
3rd=Julien Gressier
PGA of France
706973212 (-4)

Pro-Am team

ProfessionalRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Total
1stZane Scotland
John Webb, Stephen Johnson & James Hardwick
135126133475 (-45)
2ndGuy Woodman
Peter Bowden, Denis Bowden & Terry Drake
1351341332486 (-34)
3rdPaul Nessling
Robert Zijlstra, Swati Patel & Stuart Ede
137130134486 (-34)

Awards dinner

On the Saturday evening the Prizegiving Dinner was held at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort, and once again there was a brilliant atmosphere and plenty of banter between the teams. After an excellent meal the prizes were presented by tournament organisers John & Alison Hooper. The winners each received top branded golf merchandise, including the latest Callaway Rogue drivers and commemorative trophies. In his winner’s speech, Zane Scotland, praised joint winner Guy Woodman, and also thanked the Pro-Am Tour for their fantastic organisation during the event. He also was very appreciative of all the amateur golfers for supporting The Pro-Am Tour and allowing professionals to compete at some of golf’s finest tournament venues.


In summary

The Sawgrass Classic Pro-Am delivers a professionally run golf tournament staged on three fantastic golf courses, and one truly exceptional golf course. To compete at TPC Sawgrass straight after The PLAYERS Championship, with the course presented in mint tournament condition is one of golf’s greatest experiences.

Local attractions

Away from the golf courses, the Ponte Vedra Beach & Greater Jacksonville areas offer plenty of attractions, shopping and nightlife.

The Sawgrass Shopping Village offers a variety of boutique shops as well as the popular Aqua Grille (seafood), Nona Blue (Graeme McDowells’s modern tavern) & Café Andiamo (Italian) restaurants. These are walking distance from the hotel, but the hotel also offers complimentary transportation to the Shopping Village.

Also nearby was the very popular Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, just about every team dined here during the week, and everyone raved about the quality of the steaks and service. The outstanding Bell Staff at the hotel were also pleased to drop off and collect from here. Also in the same complex is the upscale Restaurant Medure which offers gourmet cuisine, and the popular and casual Pusser’s Caribbean Bistro. Several teams also dined at the TPC Clubhouse which offers the excellent restaurant “Nineteen”.

Other popular dining options included, the upscale chain restaurants, Bonefish Grill with its popular bar, Roy’s Pacific Fusion, as well as PF Changs & Capital Grille further afield at the St John’s Town Center Shopping Complex. Azurea at One Ocean Atlantic Beach was also very popular.

Once again the local’s favourite restaurant Palm Valley Fish Camp proved extremely popular with its superb seafood cuisine and great views.

As always Jacksonville Beach provided plenty of late night bars, and Ragtime Tavern at Atlantic Beach was popular with its live music. A few teams also spent the evening at Top Golf.

Popular shopping malls included the St Johns Town Center for all the main chain stores and department stores, the St Augustine Factory Outlet Mall (close to the World Golf Village), and two large Edwin Watts Golf Stores and the PGA Tour Superstore.

More past event reviews & results

Upcoming tournaments you might be interested in