The Shaw Charity Classic has been named one of the top events on the Champions Tour, awarding it the distinguished “Outstanding Achievement Award” for the inaugural event. The award was one of four awards announced last night at the PGA and Champions Tour tournament meetings held in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., at TPC Sawgrass.
The Outstanding Achievement Award is awarded by the Tournament Advisory Council to an event that goes above and beyond to introduce unique concepts and initiatives to promote the tournament. Taking place just months after the devastating floods hit the Calgary area, the Shaw Charity Classic put an emphasis on thanking the community with different initiatives surrounding the tournament, including the “Shootout at the Meadows” that featured first responders taking on 12 Olympians in a “Closest to the Pin” showdown. Additionally, the tournament made a $250,000 donation to flood recovery efforts that was included in the overall announcement of $2,276,251 going to southern Alberta charities. That donation is the single largest charitable donation in Champions Tour history.
“Calgary was already excited to have this Champions Tour event in our backyard, but to have the entire community come together to help us kick off tournament week was an added bonus,” stated tournament director Sean Van Kesteren. “We are honoured to receive this award from the Champions Tour and to be recognized as one of the top events on Tour in only our first year is outstanding. The real winners here are the southern Alberta charities that benefited from the more than $2.2 million the tournament donated this year.”
Tournament officials also recently announced that golf’s legends will play for a purse of $2.25 million, an increase of $250,000 from last year, when they return to Calgary’s Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club in 2014 when the tournament will be played August 25-31.
Riley Wheeldon wins NGA Tour event
Riley Wheeldon of Comox, BC managed to make over a 100 feet of putts on his back nine to shoot a four under 32 in the final round of the NGA Tour Winter Series event at Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course outlasting the field and capturing his second NGA Tour win this year. Wheeldon finished at -16 total with rounds of 68-64-68 beating out fellow Canadian Ben Silverman (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) by a margin of a single stroke.
Fukushima wins title in Bermuda
On Thursday, Veteran PGA Tour Canada player Kent Fukushima (Grande Prairie, Alta.) won the Gosling’s Invitational at Belmont Hills in Bermuda.
Fukushima posted a 71 during the final round to win by three shots over Jordan Mitchell.
Brian McCann of Mississauga, Ont., tied for fourth, while defending champ Bill Walsh tied for seventh.
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Gary Player recalls the first time he met Nelson Mandela
The first time he met Nelson Mandela, Gary Player got on his knees and kissed the former political prisoner’s feet.
Remembering his “very tearful” first encounter with Mandela, the nine-time major winner paused Friday to compose himself and hold back more tears.
Mandela, the beloved former South African president and Nobel laureate, died Thursday at 95.
Renowned as a fierce competitor on the golf course, Player was invited to meet Mandela at his office in Johannesburg after the anti-apartheid leader’s release after 27 years in prison.
But he didn’t expect to do what he did, Player said.
“I knelt down and I kissed his feet and I said, ‘I have never kissed anybody’s feet in my life,’ and I said, ‘I have so much admiration for you.’ I said to him, ‘It is remarkable, how can you not have revenge?”’
Mandela’s reply, according to Player, was: “You have got to start a new life and forgive and go ahead.”
Player, speaking at the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, said Mandela’s ability to inspire with compassion left him amazed then _ and still does.
“It was very tearful for me, because when you think of a man that has gone to jail for all those years for doing the right thing, not the wrong thing, it is hard to comprehend that a man can come out and be like that,” Player said. “He was an exceptional man.”
From that first meeting, Player and Mandela would cross paths regularly as the golfer, one of South Africa’s greatest sportsmen, worked with the president on charity projects.
Once, Player remembered with a big smile, Mandela landed at a charity tournament in a helicopter to lend support.
“I had to meet him when the helicopter arrived and open the door. Now I had been around him all these years raising money for young black children and I opened the door, and he says ‘Good morning Gary, do you remember me?”’ Player recalled, imitating Mandela’s unique rasping voice. “Just wonderful.”
Although Player wasn’t sure if he ever saw Mandela swing a golf club, he knew that the anti-apartheid leader “realized the value of sport” and even followed Player’s career overseas while he was imprisoned by South Africa’s former racist regime.
“He said to me, ‘When I was in jail, I used to watch you playing.’ He was very complimentary,” Player said.