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Players notebook: Jacksonville’s Russell Knox tries to shake recent slump

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Russell Knox said his game is just fine — he only needs to figure out the right mixture of starts and weeks off.

The Jacksonville University graduate and Jacksonville Beach resident is entering The Players off a streak of five missed cuts in eight starts, including two of his last three. Earlier in the 2016-2017 season, he was playing well, with three top-10s in a row.

Knox said a heavy schedule at the end of last season, when he played nine times in less than three months, was followed by a lighter schedule, and he never got into a rhythm.

“I played a bit too much at the end of last year, took some time off, missed a couple of cuts, took more time off and played myself into a mini-slump,” said the two-time PGA Tour winner. “My game feels really good. I played well at Hilton Head [a tie for 11th] and hit the ball fine at Zurich [where he missed the cut]. I’m good. I just have to keep playing.”

Knox has made the cut in all three Players starts, with a pair of top-20 finishes the last two years.

“I have to keep a good attitude and keep working hard,” he said. “There’s no secret to it.”

Howell withdraws

Charles Howell III withdrew from the tournament on Monday, without citing a reason to the Tour. That reduces the number of entries to 146, and alternates won’t get in unless the field falls below 144.

The first alternate is Ollie Schneiderjans, followed, in order, by Kelly Kraft, Bud Cauley of Jacksonville, J.J. Spaun, C.T. Pan, and former Universtiy of Florida player Camilo Villegas.

Volunteer Challenge

down to the wire

The election is coming down to the wire at The Players Championship — for your favorite volunteer.

For the third year in a row, the Myrbetriq Volunteer Challenge is being held, created in 2015 by Astellas and the PGA Tour. Voting began on Feb. 27 from among the 2,200 volunteers that help operate The Players, with the winner receiving a $10,000 donation in his or her name to The First Tee of North Florida, and an additional $2,500 to the charity of choice.

The PGA Tour Volunteer Challenge voting will close at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Voting can be done by visiting http://www.tourchallenge.com/THEPLAYERSChampionship.

Skin screenings available

The weather forecast is calling for almost a zero percent chance of rain each day of Players week and fans are being urged to use sun protection.

If they desire, fans can get a free skin cancer screening beginning Thursday at the MD Anderson Fan Zone and Baptist MD Anderson first aid center, located behind the merchandise tent behind the 17th hole of the Stadium Course.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center are teaming up to provide the free screenings. Dermatologists will conduct the 10-minute screenings between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Walk-ups are welcome, although appointments can be made by visiting https://skincancercheck.eventbrite.com.

More than 250 people received the screenings last year. To reduce wait times, the number of physicians has been increased.