After months of speculation and rumor, it is official: the WGC Bridgestone Invitational is leaving the Firestone Country Club in Akron after this summer's event in August.
PGA Tour officials, along with representatives from Bridgestone and Senior Tour golfers Scott McCarron and Colin Montgomerie were on hand for the announcement Thursday morning from Firestone's Club House.
Longtime tournament director Don Padgett III was asked about the impact the move would have on the Northern Ohio Golf Charities, which last year raised more than a million dollars with the WGC Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club, to which Padgett replied, "Charitable dollars we'll be able to give back is what the community makes of it," thus encouraging local resident to support the PGA Senior Tour event with the same amount of vigor they have the WGC events.
Bridgestone Americas CEO Gordon Knapp said, of the transition, "We're very confident that in partnership with the community, we're going to put on a world class event here starting in July of 2019 and continuing for the next four years after that." Knapp added that he doesn't see the move by the PGA as a "major change in direction." Once it the numbers were crunched, and given the direction the PGA wanted to go with their event, Knapp says, "Once (Bridgestone) realized we weren't going to renew the (WGC) tournament, we were absolutely committed that we would still continue with a world class tournament here in Northeast Ohio." He added, "We didn't look anywhere else. The committment was to have that tournament here, at the Firestone Golf and Country Club; it's a world class venue, obviously, and we believe the players are going to be excited to come back here and play."
The official press release from Bridgestone and the PGA Tour is posted below:
AKRON, Ohio – The PGA TOUR announced today that beginning in 2019, Bridgestone will become the title sponsor for the SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, one of five major championships contested annually on PGA TOUR Champions. The event will be played at Firestone Country Club’s South Course, ensuring professional golf’s 65-year tradition in Northeast Ohio will continue with golf’s legends competing each year. The 2019 tournament will be held the week of July 8-14, with a four-year agreement in place through 2022.
Bridgestone also extended its Official Marketing Partner relationship with the PGA TOUR through 2022 and will remain as the “Official Tire of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions,” with activation at other TOUR events and messaging across TOUR media properties.
“Bridgestone has been a tremendous partner and valued member of the PGA TOUR family since 2005, and we are excited to begin this new journey with them as we bring major championship golf to Northeast Ohio with the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “With Firestone Country Club’s South Course as the host venue, golf’s 65-year tradition in Akron will continue.”
The newly-named Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship will return to Northeast Ohio for a second time in its 35-year history after being played at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood from 1983-1986. In total, the tournament has been played in nine different cities at some of the country’s top venues including The Philadelphia Cricket Club, Caves Valley Golf Club (Baltimore), Fox Chapel Golf Club (Pittsburgh), Westchester Country Club (New York) and Exmoor Country Club (Chicago), which will host the event’s 2018 edition the week of July 9-15.
Along with its stature as a major championship and significance in determining the season-long Charles Schwab Cup champion, the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS will also continue to offer its champion a return trip to the PGA TOUR with an exemption into THE PLAYERS Championship.
“We are incredibly proud to extend our partnership with the PGA TOUR and ensure that world-class golf will continue at Firestone Country Club through the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship,” said Gordon Knapp, Chief Executive Officer and President, Bridgestone Americas. “The Akron community and the sport of golf have played significant roles in Bridgestone’s history and will continue to play significant roles in our future, so it is important to us that we carry the sport’s legacy in this area forward. We are excited to work with absolute legends of the sport to start a new chapter in a 65-year tradition of premier golf events that have made so many positive economic and charitable impacts on this community.”
Past champions of the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS include Arnold Palmer (1984-85), Jack Nicklaus (1990), Fred Couples (2011), Bernhard Langer (2014-16) and Scott McCarron, who notched his first senior major title at Caves Valley last year. In 2019, fans can expect the likes of Couples, Langer, Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Steve Stricker and Miguel Ángel Jiménez to be among those vying for the title at a course they’ve all had experience playing in their careers.
In all, 57 of the 78 players who competed in the 2017 SENIOR PLAYERS Championship have competed in either the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational or the NEC World Series of Golf at Firestone Country Club. Most notably, José María Olazábal captured both the 1990 and 1994 NEC World Series of Golf, while Vijay Singh won the 2008 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at 45 years old. Darren Clarke, who will turn 50 this August, won the event’s 2003 edition.
The Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS will replace the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, which has been staged at Firestone’s South Course since 2006. The World Golf Championships event will relocate in 2019, with an announcement set for 3:00 p.m. (ET) today. This announcement does not impact the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which will be contested as scheduled, Aug. 1-5.
Ticket and volunteer information for the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship during the week of July 8-14, 2019, will be made available following the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. For more information, please visit PGATOUR.com.
ABOUT PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
PGA TOUR Champions is a membership organization of professional golfers age 50 and older, including 35 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. The Tour’s mission is to provide financial opportunities for its players, entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back and generate significant charitable and economic impact in tournament communities. In 2018, the PGA TOUR Champions schedule includes 27 tournaments across the United States, Scotland and Canada, with purses totaling more than $56 million. The Charles Schwab Cup, which includes the Regular Season and the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs, is used to determine the season-long champion. All events are televised in the United States, with most receiving complete coverage on Golf Channel, the exclusive cable-television partner of PGA TOUR Champions. Internationally, telecasts air in excess of 190 countries and territories, reaching more than 350 million potential households. Follow PGA TOUR Champions online at PGATOUR.COM, at facebook.com/PGATOURChampions, on Twitter @ChampionsTour and on Instagram @pgatourchampions.
Bridgestone Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, is the world’s largest tire and rubber company. In addition to tires for use in a wide variety of applications, it also manufactures a broad range of diversified products, which include industrial rubber and chemical products and sporting goods. Its products are sold in over 150 nations and territories around the world.
ABOUT BRIDGESTONE AMERICAS, INC.
Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) is the U.S. subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest tire and rubber company. BSAM and its subsidiaries develop, manufacture and market a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires to address the needs of a broad range of customers, including consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers, and those in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. The companies are also engaged in retreading operations throughout the Western Hemisphere and produce air springs, roofing materials, and industrial fibers and textiles. The BSAM family of companies also operates the world’s largest chain of automotive tire and service centers. Guided by its One Team, One Planet message, the company is dedicated to achieving a positive environmental impact in all of the communities it calls home.
When you think of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, world class golf comes to mind, but one of the most important aspects of the tournament is the charities that benefit from their generosity.
This year's Charity Challenge golf outing was scrubbed due to rain, but some great sports figures such as former Browns running back Kevin Mack, former Cleveland Indian "Super" Joe Charboneau, and John Hirschbeck, former MLB umpire came to the South Course to say a few words, tell a few golf stories, and talk about what makes this tournament great. Today, Tournament Executive Director Don Padgett III along with the athletes presented a check for $8,000 to Akron Children's Hospital, UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, and Flashes of Hope, who were represented at Firestone Country Club.
Here is audio from Padgett as well as the athletes presenting the check to charity.
That $8,000 came from last year's tournament. In early June, an additional check for more than $1 million was split between 38 local non-profit organizations including the three being represented at Firestone today. John Hirschbeck says this event means a lot to him on a lot of different fronts."It means a lot, because we have our own organization in Youngstown, the Magic of Michael, after our own son, Michael who passed away three years ago, and we've been affiliated with Akron Children's Hospital, trying to raise money and help kids and families facing the 'curve balls 'of life," he says.Retired from umpiring, John says he looks to attend this year's tournament with his wife and see what this year's Bridgestone Invitational is all about.
Former Browns Pro Bowler Kevin Mack, who was invited to hit a shot for University Hospitals said that its an honor for him and other former pro athletes to give back to the community.
"Having been in this area for so long, anytime you have a chance to contribute to any type of charity, you always step forward," he explained.
Mack says he's played Firestone a couple of times over the years and he always thought it was a unique feeling to play where some of the world's greatest golfers have also competed.
Mack played for the Browns from 1985-1993 and now works with the organization in front office.
Charboneau says it's a "great instrument" to have the world's best golfers on a great course and spotlight some great local charities.
"That's what it's all about, helping people," he said.
The tournament runs from August 3rd, through the 6th at the South Course.
Executive Director of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Don Padgett III discussed the new fan amenities coming to the South Course in 2017.
The tournament will be coming to Firestone Country Club August 2-6. Quite a few of the PGA's big names will be playing in this year's event.
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is a global event that truly highlights Akron's Firestone Country Club and in turn the entire Northeast Ohio area.
While it's obviously about the sport of golf, there is a much more important effect that is felt among northeast Ohio's non-profit organizations.
During a luncheon at the Bridgestone Akron Technical Center Thursday, a check for more than $1 Million was presented and diviied up between 38 local non-profits, including Akron Children's Hospital, University Hospitals, the LeBron James Family Foundation, the Humane Society of Summit County, and more.
Of the donation, Bridgestone Invitational Executive Director Don Padgett III they reason they do it was on display during Thursday's luncheon: "Over a million dollars going back to Northeast Ohio (and) the fantastic causes that we celebrate here today." Padgett says that more than $26 million has been raised for local non-profits since 1984.
Also, for the 7th straight year, Bridgestone Invitational has named a local recipient of the $5,000 "surprise grant." This year's grant goes to Pregnancy Solutions Services in Akron.
See the full press release recapping the grant presentation and highlighting the 2017 Bridgestone Invitational that runs August 2nd through August 6th below:
AKRON, Ohio – The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and Northern Ohio Golf Charities today announced the donation of $1 million in charitable funds to Northeast Ohio organizations in connection with the 2016 tournament. The announcement was made at the annual Bridgestone Invitational, Northern Ohio Golf Charities luncheon held at the Bridgestone Americas Technical Center in Akron.
Representatives from Bridgestone Americas, Inc., the PGA TOUR and Northern Ohio Golf Charities attended the luncheon to celebrate the tournament’s charitable mission and announce the donation recipients. The luncheon was emceed by Chris Tye, news anchor and reporter for WKYC, Channel 3.
Thirty-eight charities throughout the region benefitted from the $1,015,981 total raised including the tournament’s two signature charities, Akron Children’s Hospital and UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.
“The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational is a special event for this community and the region,” said Rick Burke, President, Executive Committee, Northern Ohio Golf Charities. “It is a world class golf event that generates economic development for the area but more importantly, it enables Northern Ohio Golf Charities to distribute in excess of one million dollars each year to support so many worthy and necessary charitable causes. The tournament has provided Northern Golf Charities the unique opportunity to enhance the lives of so many in our community and we are immensely grateful to our partners Bridgestone, the PGA TOUR and Firestone Country Club for providing our organization a platform to achieve our charitable mission.”
Charities recognized at the luncheon included: Akron Children’s Hospital and University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, the LeBron James Family Foundation, The First Tee Chapters of Akron, Canton and Cleveland, Akron Children’s Museum, Akron General Foundation, Embracing Futures, Inc., Summa Foundation and the Humane Society of Summit County. (Please see attached document for a full listing of grant recipients.)
For the seventh year, Bridgestone Americas, Inc., funded an additional $5,000 contribution to a charitable organization. The 2017 Bridgestone Award was presented to Pregnancy Solutions & Services.
“Bridgestone is a global company with global responsibilities, but we understand the importance of supporting and improving the local communities in which we live, work and play,” said Gordon Knapp, CEO & President, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “It’s an honor to partner once again with Northern Ohio Golf Charities on the Bridgestone Award, which this year we’re proud to present to Pregnancy Solutions & Services.”
Northern Ohio Golf Charities Foundation is part of a volunteer organization that has partnered with professional golf tournaments at Firestone Country Club for more than 50 years. During this time, the tournaments have provided more than $26 million to local charities seeking to improve the quality of life in Northeast Ohio.
“Bridgestone and Northern Ohio Golf Charities are phenomenal partners that enable the Bridgestone Invitational to give back to worthy local causes ,” said Don Padgett, Executive Director of the Bridgestone Invitational. “This event has a meaningful impact on the area all year long and we have our fans, area businesses and volunteers to thank for their support.”
Among the guests at the luncheon were: Gordon Knapp, CEO, Bridgestone Americas Inc.; Don Padgett III, Executive Director, Bridgestone Invitational, and Rick Burke, President, Northern Ohio Golf Charities Foundation, Inc.
Not-for-profit, 501 (c)(3) organizations can receive funds generated in conjunction with the 2017 Bridgestone Invitational by submitting a grant request to Northern Ohio Golf Charities. Further details can be found at www.nogcf.org.
Tickets to the 2017 Bridgestone Invitational can be purchased by visiting www.worldgolfchampionships.com or calling 330-644-2299.
The following non-profits split the more than $1M from the 2016 Bridgestone Invitational:
1. 91.3 The Summit 2. Akron Children's Foundation 3. Akron Children's Museum 4. Akron General Foundation (Edwin Shaw Golf) 5. Barberton Area Community Ministries 6. Blessings in a Backpack 7. Cleveland Kids Book Bank 8. East Akron Neighborhood Development 9. Embracing Futures, Inc. 10. Emerald Development & Economic Network 11. Family Promise of Greater Cleveland 12. Flashes of Hope 13. Forever Amber Acres Animal Sanctuary 14. Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity 15. Hiram Farm Living Learning Community 16. Humane Society of Summit County 17. Humility of Mary Housing 18. Interval Brotherhood Home 19. LeBron James Family Foundation 20. Lift Up Ministries 21. Pregnancy Solutions & Services, Inc. 22. RABAB Ministries, The Well Akron 23. Regina Health Center 24. Ronald McDonald House of Akron 25. Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland 26. Rotary Camp for Children with Special Needs 27. Stewart's Caring Place 28. Summa Foundation 29. Summit Choral Society 30. Summit Metro Parks 31. The First Tee of Akron 32. The First Tee of Canton 33. The First Tee of Cleveland 34. True Freedom, Inc. 35. Truly Reaching You 36. United Disability Services, Inc. 37. UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital 38. Urban Vision