Vijay Singh befriends raccoon at TPC Sawgrass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Behind the far end of the driving range at TPC Sawgrass, where players come to prepare for the Players Championship in solitude, is a narrow ditch full of water bordered by railroad ties and pine straw. That's where a svelte raccoon was munching on chunks of banana Wednesday, a sweet treat thrown by a few laughing caddies.Adam Scott, Nick Watney, Butch Harmon and a raft of other players and instructors went through their last-minute preparation on the sod above; the raccoon kept fishing banana chunks out of the straw."Vijay's been feeding that little guy crackers," Fred Funk said, alluding to his fellow Ponte Vedra resident Singh, a mainstay on the range. "He threw him a pickle, and [the raccoon] didn't want that. He threw him some lettuce and he didn't want that. He threw in a bag of chips, and he ate the whole thing."Yes, the raccoon has the typical American diet.TPC Sawgrass is full of wildlife--hawks, osprey, otters, snakes, armadillos and the rare alligator. But the furry guys with the black masks seem to have all the personality. Funk says two raccoons have been known to sneak into carts and steal food as golfers putt out on four. At least they don't take jewelry."At the Palm Course at Disney, 13th tee, there's one they've named Rocky Raccoon, and he steals everything," said Mark Long, Funk's caddie. "Wristwatches, whatever--if you leave it in your cart, it's his. They have a sign there warning people. They've never caught him, and they've never found his stash."

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by Kevin Cunningham