United Airlines, PGA Tour to support HBCU golf programs with travel expenses

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One of the biggest expenses in golf, from the junior ranks to the PGA Tour, is travel.

The PGA Tour and United Airlines are partnering to support golf programs at more than 50 historically black colleges and universities with travel grants so teams can travel to tournaments across the country.

United will award more than $500,000 in grants to teams, divided equally among 51 programs. Each team will receive $10,000 in travel credit, which will help an estimated 250 student-athletes and their coaches fly to tournament locations that previously may have been unreachable.

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“Removing barriers for HBCU students to have the same opportunities as other college athletes will open doors for countless young black golfers to pursue their dreams and for HBCU golf programs to reach their full potential,” said United President Brett Hart in an opinion.

Winston-Salem University Golf Coach Charles Penny II, whose program resumed last year for the first time in 10 years, said the team was only able to play in one fall tournament because it didn’t have enough money in its budget for more travel. He said the United credits would allow the team to play in up to four tournaments next fall.

“The United Airlines scholarship will have a tremendous impact on the ability of our program to travel,” Penny said in a statement.

The Florida A&M men’s team and the Bethune-Cookman women’s team are among the programs receiving travel credits. When the Edward Waters women’s team starts play in 2023, they can apply.

United is the official airline of the PGA Tour and was the inaugural sponsor of the tour’s HBCU grants program.

“We are committed to helping diversify the landscape of competitive golf, and this collaboration between United Airlines and these colleges and universities will be a significant step in leveling the playing field and enhancing the experience between students and athletes,” said the Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement.

DJ Gregory honored by tour

DJ Gregory, who was born with cerebral palsy and has written a book and walked more than 14,000 miles and 42,000 holes in PGA Tour events since 2008, was named a recipient of the PGA Tour Courage Award.

Gregory, who went to support his Walking For Kids Foundation, was honored in a surprise ceremony at TPC Scottsdale, site of this week’s World Championships Phoenix Open.

DJ Gregory walks with players at the 2016 Sanderson Farms Championship at the Country Club of Jackson (Miss.).

The PGA TOUR Courage Award is presented to an individual who through courage and perseverance has overcome adversity such as personal tragedy or debilitating injury or illness to make a meaningful and meaningful contribution to the game of golf. Introduced in 2012, Gregory is the fifth recipient and first non-PGA TOUR member of the PGA TOUR Courage Award Eric Compton (2013), Jarrod Lyle (2015), Gene Sauer (2017) and Morgan Hoffman (2020).

“DJ has endeared himself to countless fans, players, staff and tournaments on the PGA TOUR for over a decade and is an outstanding example of perseverance and courage,” said Monahan, who was at TPC Scottsdale to present to Gregory . “Our players have embraced DJ over the years and remain motivated by his commitment to the Walking For Kids Foundation. We couldn’t be prouder of the impact he left and the many lives he positively touched.”

Monahan announced during the ceremony that the tour will donate $25,000 to Walking For Kids. Tournament sponsor Waste Management and #1 player in the world Jon Rahm matched it. Gregory will be going with cream on all his rounds this week.

Gregory’s parents were told shortly after his birth that he would spend his life in a wheelchair. But after numerous surgeries, he learned to walk with a cane.

At the age of 12 he became a golf fan and in 2008 he decided to walk tour events.

The players took notice and many asked Gregory to do their rounds. He has walked with the Sunday winner eight times, including Rahm at the US Open last year and Jason day at the PGA 2015.

RSM donates to INK!

The St. Johns County Education Foundation Inc., known as INK! (Investing in Kids) has received a donation of $351,721 from RSM Classic’s Birdies Fore Love program.

Zach Johnson taking a shot during the 2020 RSM Classic at the Sea Island Club.

The RSM Classic is the PGA Tour’s fall event at the Sea Island Club on St. Simons Island, Georgia Davis love Foundation, endowment.

INK! provides program and instructional resources for educators and students in St. Johns County. INK! also received a $303,000 donation from the 2021 RSM Classic.

The RSM Classic has raised more than $20 million since its inception in 2010.

Epson Tour offers record-breaking wallets

The Epson Tour, the LPGA’s development track, will have a 22-event schedule this year, beginning and ending in Florida.

The tour won its new sponsor two weeks ago. It begins March 4-6 with Florida’s Natural Charity Classic at Winter Haven’s Country Club and concludes October 6-9 with the Epson Tour Championship at LPGA International in Daytona Beach.

Tournaments are played in 13 states with a total budget of $4.41 million and an average budget of $210,000. Nine years ago there were 15 events for $1.6 million and an average prize pool of $108,000.

The tour will have two more events in Florida, at the Alaqua Country Club in Longwood May 20-22 and the Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills the following week.

PGA TOUR

Event: WM Phoenix Open, Thursday-Sunday, TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Ariz.

At stake: $8.2 million in prize money ($1,476,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points for the winner).

Defending champion: Brooks Koepka.

TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 3pm-7pm; Saturday-Sunday, 1pm-3pm); CBS (Saturday, 3-6:30 p.m.; Sunday, 3-6 p.m.).

Players from the region competed: Jonathan Byrd, Harris English, Brian Harman, Billy Horschel, Zach Johnson, Patton Kizzire, Russell Knox, Tyler McCumber, Keith Mitchell, JT Poston, Sam Ryder, Hudson Swafford.

Notable: Kopeka’s 65 in the final round beat Xander Schauffele and KH Lee by one shot. … Best early season field so far are World No. 1 Jon Rahm, FedEx Cup Champion Patrick Cantlay, Defending Champion Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott and Tony Finau.

WAY TO THE PLAYERS

When: March 10-13, Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Defending champion: Justin Thomas.

Days until first round: 28.

Events to Player: Five.

About the players: The low “ringer” score (adding the lowest score on each hole) on the Stadium Course in Players competition is 31. The par-5 ninth hole is the only hole that has never had at least one Two was scored. The highest ringer score is 172, with 10 holes having at least a double digit score, led by 12 in places 4 and 17.

Tickets/Info: theplayers.com.

GRAIN FERRY TOUR

Event: Astara Golf Championship, Thursday through Sunday, Bogota (Col.) Country Club.

At stake: $750,000 in prize money ($135,000 for the winner).

Defending champion: Mito Pereira.

TV: No.

Players from the region competed: Chris Baker, Chandler Blanchet, AJ Crouch, Taylor Dickson, Luke Guthrie, David Lingmerth.

Notable: Pereira shot 64 in the final round, beating Ben Kohles by two shots. The tournament was canceled last year.

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