Charities Big Winners With Nelson, Colonial Tour Events

By David R. Holland, Contributor

IRVING, TX -- It's May in Texas and that means the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic and the MasterCard Colonial PGA Tour events are set.

Sergio Garcia will defend his Colonial title and Robert Damron is back to defend the Nelson championship. Tiger Woods will play in Irving, his sixth straight appearance in the tourney, but is not expected to play in Fort Worth.

The Verizon Byron Nelson Classic, which is still the only PGA Tour Tournament named after a professional golfer, will be played for the 20th consecutive year at the Tournament Players Course at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas, Irving. The Tournament dates for this year are May 5-12.

Invitations to the MasterCard Colonial, May 13-19, were extended to 138 of the world's finest golfers. A record purse of $4.3 million awaits the players, an invitation list which includes all of last year's PGA Tour winners, an impressive contingent of foreign stars and former champions of this event. This year's champion will claim a $774,000 prize. The event, stage annually on the historic Colonial Country Club golf course, is the longest running PGA Tour event still held at its original site.

A year ago Garcia, only four months past his 21st birthday, fired a final round 63 to overcome a five-stroke deficit and garner both his first PGA TOUR and MasterCard Colonial titles. Each year Colonial's top 15 finishers become automatic invitees for the following year's event.

The 2002 invitation list includes multi-event winners on last year's PGA Tour: Phil Mickelson (at right), Garcia, Robert Allenby, Jose Coceres, Joe Durant, Bob Estes, Scott Hoch, David Toms and Woods, however he is not expected to play. Also invited is Bubba Dickerson, U.S. Amateur champion.

But the big winners for both events are charities.

The Salesmanship Club of Dallas, sponsor of the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic, raised the 2002 purse to $4.8 million, a $300,000 increase over last year. The Nelson purse, which has increased every year and has more than tripled since 1996, will continue to be one of the largest on the regular Tour.

"We have been working very hard to keep this Tournament as one of the top events on the PGA Tour schedule," said Frank Swingle, 2002 Tournament Chairman. "In the light of world and economic events we are extremely proud to make this commitment. This increase will ensure our place among the top regular Tour events and hopefully ensure the best professional field for our sponsors and fans."

Salesmanship Club President Bob Ferguson points out that the Tournament has raised more than $64 million for charity -- a figure that represents approximately 13 percent of the PGA Tour's total charity donations over the past 28 years.

Founded in 1920, the Salesmanship Club of Dallas helps provide a year-round residential therapeutic camp for adolescents who are experiencing emotional or behavioral problems, family therapy, which provides counseling for families, and the J. Erik Jonsson Community School, which emphasizes an experimental, enriched learning environment to maximize academic achievement. All proceeds from the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic benefit these programs.

Colonial Country Club (at right) and MasterCard International honored nearly 50 local charities in November, with donations in connection with the annual MasterCard Colonial Golf Tournament on the PGA Tour.

The Tournament, which will be celebrating its 56th year in 2002, has generated cash, goods and services for seven dozen organizations in the last decade totaling more than $7 million. Including the generous donation this year of over $500,000 for its primary beneficiary, Cook Children's Medical Center, the total MasterCard Colonial charity proceeds exceeds $1.2 million dollars in 2001.

"We are very proud to support these great causes in the Fort Worth community," said Colonial President Elliott Garsek. "We applaud the important work being done by these dedicated organizations, especially those helping children."

This year's recipients are All Church Home for Children, American Heart Association, Because We Care, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Tarrant County, Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth, Camp Carter YMCA, Camp Summit, Child Advocates of Tarrant County, Child Study Center, Cornerstone Assistance Network, Crime Prevention Resource Center, Ekklesia Christian School, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, First Tee Foundation for Junior Golf, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Fort Worth Stock Show, Fort Worth Streams and Valleys, Gill Childrens' Services, Girl Scout Council, Gladney Center, Bart Granger Scholarship Fund, Happy Hill Farm, Hill School, H.O.P.E. Farm, Jim Bob Norman Scholarship Fund, Kids Who Care, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Lena Pope Home, Mental Health Housing Development Corporation, Parenting Center, Presbyterian Night Shelter, Rise School, Ronald McDonald House, Sickle Cell Foundation, Tarrant Area Food Bank, Tarrant Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Tarrant County Cancer Care Services, El Tesoro De Vida, Texas Boys' Choir, Texas Christian University, Texas Girls' Choir, Texas Golden Gloves, Texas Trail of Fame, Texas Wesleyan University, The WARM Place, Union Gospel Mission, United Cerebral Palsy, Youth Orchestra of Fort Worth, and YWCA Child Care Center.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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