Pro golfers return to support golf academy
AUSTIN, Texas - Some of the greatest names in the game of golf, including established players and rising stars, gathered in Austin Monday to play in a Pro-Am Tournament supporting the construction of the UT Golf Academy at The University of Texas Golf Club.
The academy, a training facility that will include indoor hitting bays, locker rooms and state of the are video equipment, will benefit the men's and women's golf teams at Texas.
The day-long event included a brief clinic, a Pro-Am Tournament and an auction. In all the day raised over $500,000 which will go directly to benefit the golf programs of men's coach John Fields and women's coach Susan Watkins.
With the Shell Houston Open coming up this weekend for the PGA, the field included just about every active Longhorn player on the PGA, LPGA, Champions, Nationwide and Futures tours.
The players included five winners of major championships, were led by veterans Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite. Crenshaw has won two Masters titles (1984 and 1995) and Kite claimed the 1992 U.S. Open. Former British Open winner Justin Leonard, former PGA champ Mark Brooks and former Weetabix Women's British Open champion Sherri Steinhauer also returned.
Cindy Figg-Currier, fresh off a tie for sixth in the LPGA event in Las Vegas last weekend, and Bob Estes, who was most recently featured in the Masters as he was teamed with retiring legend Arnold Palmer, both participated.
The field included veteran Champions Tour players Terry Dill and Rick Massengale, both of whom lettered in the 1960s, and youngsters such as David Gossett a PGA tour winner who won the US Amateur when he was at Texas in 2001.
Harrison Frazar, who finished second in this year's Sony Open in Hawaii, three-time tour winner Phil Blackmar, and Omar Uresti, who rejoined the PGA this season, rounded out the veterans. Nationwide Tour competitor John Klauk, who turned pro last year after finishing his senior season at Texas, also participated.
Joining Steinhauer and Figg-Currier on the women's side were Kate Golden, Kelli Kuehne, Heather Bowie, Lisa Depaulo, Randi Meadows, Kristin Dufour and Jessica Reese.
Longhorn football coach Mack Brown, chairman of the board of governors for the University of Texas Club, also participated and praised the golfers for returning.
"There was a whole lot of history and talent out here today," he said. "It is a real tribute to this school, and to the golf program, that these players were willing to give up a couple of days out of their busy schedules to help us out."
Estes, Brooks and Gossett flew in by private jet from the Heritage tournament which ended on Sunday, and Figg-Currier, Bowie, Golden, Kuehne and Steinhauer competed in the Las Vegas tourney that ended on Saturday.
The University of Texas Golf Club opened last fall, and completion of the practice facility is a major goal of the two golf programs.
"We hope to be able to do this again," said Longhorn men's coach Fields. "But we realize that it is hard to get everybody together like this. I don't know of another program in the country that could assemble active professional players like this. It is a credit to them that they are willing to do this. That's a heckuva a gift."
In addition to their donation of time, Gossett made a significant gift to the Longhorn Foundation, and Golden purchased one of the expensive auction items. Among the auction items was a private jet trip for four people to the Masters, complete with accommodations and a private chef. The trip went for $27,500.
The Longhorn band and cheerleaders made an appearance, as did "Smokey" the cannon, which signaled the start of the tournament, and Bevo, the Longhorn mascot.