Ernie and others give back


KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Before heading to Atlanta to compete in the Tour Championship, Ernie Els made a stop in Kingsport, Tenn. this week to help a Tour friend that he shares a common bond with. On Monday, Cliff Kresge held a charity golf event benefiting the Kresge’s Krew fight against autism. Cliff’s son, Mason, was diagnosed with autism and last year Els came public with the news of his son Ben’s battle with autism as well.

Ernie did not come alone. He loaded up his private plane with several players from South Florida including Steve Marino who is also playing at East Lake this week. They joined Mark Wilson, Matt Bettencourt, Dustin Johnson, Fred Funk and others for this pro-am event. Also playing was country music star Vince Gill who is an avid golfer and posted a 65 just last week.

The tournament took place at Ridgefields Country Club and the membership there was wonderful with their time and money. Participants were treated to an intimate dinner and a private acoustic concert by Gill. The highlight of the evening came when Kresge handed Els a check for $10,000 to help build a facility to fight autism in South Florida.

After a day with 18 PGA Tour and Champions Tour players, the event raised $100,000 to fight Autism. Kudos to the pros who found their way to East Tennessee when they could have been spending time with their family or preparing for yet another tournament. More importantly, hats off to Cliff and Judy Kresge who raised the money to fight this disease that effects one out of 150 children.