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NFL prospect Caleb Williams follows Rory McIlroy at 2024 Players

NFL prospect Caleb Williams follows Rory McIlroy at 2024 Players

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Part of the gallery following Rory McIlroy on Thursday at the 2024 Players Championship was a celebrity spectator who was inside the ropes. He’s also someone the Chicago Bears may be counting on to eventually lead them to the Super Bowl.

Former USC quarterback Caleb Williams, projected to be the Bears’ No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, created a buzz on the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass by making a surprise appearance.

Accompanied by a male friend, Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy recipient, followed McIlroy and playing partners Jordan Spieth and Viktor Hovland throughout the first round. He was particularly focused on watching the four-time champion from Northern Ireland.

Players: Leaderboard, tee times, hole-by-hole

“I’m a McIlroy fan,” said Williams, training in Jacksonville with quarterback mentor Denny Thompson, who also works with Las Vegas Raiders and former Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew.

Williams has never played golf and only got interested in the sport after USC coach Lincoln Riley encouraged him. He hopes to start picking up the game soon, and it appeared watching the Players will serve as extra motivation.

“I’ll have more time now that I’m out of school,” said Williams.

The 22-year-old Williams, who occasionally heard a spectator say “Go Bears” as he walked by them, will be leaving for Los Angeles to take part in USC’s Pro Day on Sunday.

Williams threw for 3,633 yards, 30 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2023. During his Heisman campaign in 2022, he had 4,537 yards, 42 TDs and five INTs.


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