FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Ernie Els finished up at The Barclays and hung around Long Island for a golf tournament equally important to him.
Els, a regular in the fabled Pro-Member at Seminole Golf Club in Florida, wanted to start something similar to help raise money for ”Els for Autism” and the $30 million Autism Center for Excellence he is building in south Florida.
He hooked up with Ogden Phipps II at Deepdale Golf Club to stage the first of what he hopes is an annual event. ”The members are paying quite a bit of money to play, and all that money goes to autism in my foundation,” Els said.
Els arranged for 40 professionals to play, from the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour, a group that included Cliff Kresge, who also has an autistic son. The players did not receive any money to play.
”The neat thing about this day is that it’s great for these players to meet some of the members,” Els said. ”These are the movers and shakers of Manhattan and a lot of big corporations. Not only is it beneficial to us, it could be beneficial to them. You have a good day with one of the guys, you never know what might happen. All in all, it’s very positive.”
The event was supposed to be played last year after The Barclays until a hurricane got in the way, forcing a Saturday finish and chasing everyone from the area. The timing of the tournament makes perfect sense.
The Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston doesn’t start until Friday, and Els scheduled a mid-morning shotgun start so players could finish early and either head into the city or go to the U.S. Open tennis.
”Deepdale has a great history, very much like Seminole,” Els said. ”Not just anybody can rock up and play Deepdale. It’s very exclusive. It’s near the city and the members are the top of the top. I think it’s good for everybody.”
Els said he staged a corporate day with sponsor RBC at Deepdale and several members showed up. ”They’re golf nuts,” he said. ”They’re good guys.”