Special Olympians Gather for Golf Tourney

By George WhiteSeptember 17, 2002, 4:00 pm
Bob OConnor could hardly find the words to say as he stared down at the ground momentarily. His 14-year-old son, Casey, was nearby and together they had just won an award at the Special Olympics Golf National Invitational Tournament. Wife Nell, who had caddied, looked on from the background.
 
Its wonderful, it really is, said the Conway, S.C., participant. I dont know what to say, except to just express my appreciation to everyone. Casey had a great time. This has been such a wonderful experience.
 
OConnor and young Special Olympian Casey OConner were in one of five divisions which made up the tournament held at the PGA of Americas golf courses at Port St. Lucie, Fl. Special Olympians are teamed with non-Special Olympians ' usually a father or close family friend ' and play alternate shot competition, individual competition or participate in an individual skills competition. Play was on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with the finals held Tuesday.
 
The PGA and the United States Golf Association team up to present the competition, along with volunteers who give of their time and effort. The Golf Channel, Cingular Wireless and the Phillips 66 Corporation have added their support as corporate sponsors. Jim Awtrey, the Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of America, was on hand to greet the 156 Special Olympic golfers who came from 13 states.
 
Dorothy Mastromonaco represented the USGA as a starter. The USGA has contributed over $1 million to Special Olympics since 1992.
 
The USGA Foundation Sports Program is aimed at funding programs that introduces the game to those who would not normally have the opportunity to learn the game and reap the rewards, said Mastromonaco.
 
That is the official reason for her presence. Unofficially, Mastromonaco let it be known that she wouldnt have been anywhere else on this hot September day in Florida.
 
To me personally, she said, this is like nothing that I do.
 
One of the other volunteers said, This is like going to church. And I had to agree. It makes you feel so good to be doing something so altruistic, because you know that it is so genuinely appreciated by not only the athletes, but by the families of the athletes. It means so much.
 
Longtime LPGA veteran Donna White serves as golf manager of Special Olympics. That, too, is merely a title for what has become the experience of a lifetime.
 
As a tour player, she said, Special Olympics was always my favorite charity. The best advice I ever got in my professional career was from a coach who always said, Donna, stay connected to your community. You never know whats going to happen. And I did that. I am so thrilled that I got involved with Special Olympics.
 
White explained the purpose of the program, the goal of which is to promote the game of golf, lies in three key words ' opportunity, success and lastly but most importantly, respect.
 
Not only do they earn self-respect, but respect in the community and the typical life skills of just learning the game, she said.
 
One by one, in groups of five, they came to the podium to accept awards. Brian Mills, 21, of North Borough, Mass., was there, along with partner James Ayres. James praised the golf game of his partner Mills.
 
'The development of Brian's game has really been unbelievable,' Ayres said. 'He just started playing last year, and he's come a long, long way. It's just an extremely rewarding experience to be his partner.'
 
Fourteen-year-old Michael Ciociolo of Boyston, Mass., got his award in Level 2. Seventeen-year-old brother James beamed with pride, knowing the hours and hours of work it took for Mike to reach his goal.
 
This means so much, you know, said James Ciociolo. When Mike was born, we didnt think he would even be able to touch a club. And now this. Coming out here introduced me to a whole new world. Ive met a lot of new people and everybody is so nice. The PGA and the USGA do a tournament like this, and they do a great job.
 
White has played the pro tour, seen the world, done it all in golf and yet she is overwhelmed with emotion every time she works an event. Dont ever volunteer, she warns. It will be the greatest thing you can do.
 
Once you work one of these, youre hooked, said White. You get more out of it than they do. Theres so much personal reward.
 
I coached tour players, I coached beginners, Ive coached everyone from novice to professional. And I think the reward ' and the excitement ' that a Special Olympics athlete projects is like nothing else in this world.
 
And the appreciation that you get back, regardless of how they perform, the appreciation and the effort they project ' those are the two key words for me. It just doesnt get any more special than Special Olympics.
 
Visit the Website for the Special Olympics
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Lauren Thompson and a giant 'gator eating a turtle

By Grill Room TeamApril 19, 2018, 4:53 pm

Really, the headline says it all.

"Morning Drive" co-host Lauren Thompson was playing the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., when her threesome turned into a foursome, with the appearance of a giant alligator. Techincally, it was a fivesome, as the 'gator had a turtle in its mouth.



Hey, it's a slow news week for Grill Room.

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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.