Cauley On Familiar Turf At Players

Former Alabama golfers Bud Cauley and Michael Thompson are making their first appearance in the PGA Tour's Players Championship this weekend at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Cauley is in his first full year on the PGA Tour. Following his junior season at Alabama last year, he played well enough in a handful of professional appearances to become just the sixth player in Tour history to earn his card without going through Qualifying School. In that achievement, he joined Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Ryan Moore, and Gary Hallberg.

Thompson, a native of Tucson, Ariz., who now lives in Birmingham, is in his second year on the tour. He qualified through PGA Q-School for the 2011 season and earned $935,265 as a rookie to get his PGA Tour Card again in 2012. He has earned $481,314 in 2012 with one top-10 finish and four top-25 showings. In two years on the PGA Tour, Thompson, the 2008 SEC Player of the Year, has earned $1,449,204 with three top-10 finishes.

Cauley, who hails from Jacksonville, Fla., right up the road from Ponte Vedra Beach, is off to a torrid start to the 2012 season. An early candidate for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Cauley has two top-10 finishes this year while making 10-of-13 cuts and earning $756,922. He has earned $1,492,071 in 17 career starts on the PGA Tour.

The chance for Cauley to compete in the Players Championship during his first full-year on the PGA Tour is special to the Jacksonville native. He claims to have played the TPC Sawgrass roughly 100 times and is one of the fan favorites heading into the first round on Thursday.

"It's a lot of fun," Cauley told The Florida Times-Union. "After all these years of watching this tournament and playing this course, to be actually here and playing it in the tournament is surreal."

Cauley will tee off at 1 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday while Thompson will tee it up at 7:50 a.m.

Among the winners of the Players Championship is former Tide star Jerry Pate.

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