Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2014 BMW Charity Pro-Am on Web.com Tour


The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, in the media center

Professional golf made another stop in the Palmetto state over the weekend, and this Web.com tour event included talented pros hoping to qualify for the PGA Tour, mixed in with celebrities from sports and television. The format for the event requires three separate golf courses and plenty of logistics, with the final round played at Thornblade Club on Sunday.

NHL Hall of Famer Gretzky wins the Amateur Division
The PGA Tour that sponsors events like The Heritage in Hilton Head, is now running the Web.com tour which is the equivalent of the minor leagues of professional golf. The PGA Tour used to use a qualifying school process in order for players to earn a playing spot on the pro tour, but now the young players and talented veterans must first be tested by a regular slate of golf tournaments.
            
The 2014 edition of the BMW Charity Pro-Am offered a fun mix of golfers and celebrities enjoying the outdoor sport of golf. This event enjoys the support of the BMW Manufacturing plant based in Greenville, and the first class grandstands set up at the 18th green at Thornblade Club creates an atmosphere similar to a PGA tour event. The other courses played were The Reserve at Lake Keowee and Green Valley Country Club.
            
Congrats to 23-year old Max Homa from California for winning his first tournament at the BMW Pro-Am, earning him $117K in winnings. He fired a round of 63 on Sunday, including an eagle, to win by one stroke over Jonathan Randolph. Homa also takes home the distinctive trophy that is shaped like a steering wheel from a BMW. All of the players were invited to the BMW performance track earlier in the week to test their driving skills in a high-performance German auto.
18th Hole at Thornblade Club in Greenville 
            
Each pro player is paired with either an amateur golfer or a celebrity golfer like Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who won a Super Bowl and still remains a football icon. If hockey is your sport, then NHL Hall Of Fame player Wayne Gretzky was on hand to sign autographs and pose for photos. Gretzky’s wife and son were also on hand to play in the tournament, but it was Wayne Gretzky’s team that took home the top spot in the amateur competition, with all winnings donated to charity.
            
There was no shortage of television stars on hand to play golf, and movie star Kevin Bacon turned up for a special concert by his Bacon Brothers Band. TV actors included Andy Buckley from The Office, Debbie Dunning from Home Improvement, Greg Ellis from 24, Dennis Haysbert from The Unit, Frankie Muniz from Malcolm in the Middle, Paula Trickey from Pacific Blue and funny man John O’Hurley from Seinfeld. While finishing up on Hole No. 18 O’Hurley approached the BMW booth for a cold beverage and was glad to swap some banter and photos to entertain the crowd.
Kiddie driving range on Web.com Tour
            
Some professional golfers that have played on the Web.com tour and then moved up to the big leagues include Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedecker, Jim Furyk and more recently Bubba Watson. Watson won the BMW event in 2010, after finishing school at UGA in 2008, and he has since gone on to win a pair of green jackets at The Masters in 2012 and 2014. So the BMW event is going to continue to be a tough test of golf, which is required to allow the best players to move on to greater goals.

To view this feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about the PGA Tour click McGladrey Classic or 2012 PGA Championship.

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