Fowler and Baddeley chasing Merritt for $1 Million Kodak Challenge Purse; Huston, Mayfair and Micheel announced as final sponsor exemptions
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Vijay Singh, who captured the 2003 Disney Classic, and United States Ryder Cup team participants Stewart Cink, Rickie Fowler and Jeff Overton, and assistant captains Tom Lehman and Davis Love III lead the field at the 40th annual Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Walt Disney World Resort, Nov. 11-14.
Cink, Fowler, Lehman, Love, Overton and Singh are among the 128 players vying for $4.7 million in prize money at Disney’s Magnolia and Palm golf courses. Fowler, Aaron Baddeley and Troy Merritt stand to win even more because they are also battling to win the $1 million Kodak Challenge. Several other players are fighting to finish the year among the tour’s Top 125 money list.
Overall, this year’s field includes five former Classic champions (Joe Durant, John Huston, Love, Ryan Palmer and Singh), 11 past major winners, (Rich Beem, Mark Calcavecchia, Cink, Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton, Lee Janzen, Lehman, Justin Leonard, Love, Shaun Micheel and Singh) and five players who have earned more than $2 million on tour this year (Holmes, Overton, Palmer, Heath Slocum and Brendon de Jonge).
Merritt currently leads the Kodak Challenge by one stroke over Fowler and Baddeley. Merritt had carded nine Kodak Challenge birdies before posting an eagle on the final day of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open to take the outright lead for the first time this season. Currently eight PGA TOUR pros are within three strokes of the lead.
Tour veteran D.A. Points of suburban Orlando is in the field again, partly because his 9-year-old nephew, Carson Chorney, was treated for neuroblastoma - a rare form of cancer - at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Shands Children's Hospital, two of Children's Miracle Network's 170 hospitals nationwide.
The two-day pro-am field, which will compete the Thursday and Friday of tournament week, is also set, headlined by Julius “Dr. J” Erving, recent World Series champion Aaron Rowand of the San Francisco Giants, White Sox star A.J. Pierzynski, and Tampa Bay Rays players Carlos Pena and James Shields. Two children who have been treated at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals will also compete in the pro-am, A.J. Selig, 16, and Raymond Parra, 12. Huston, a seven-time winner on the PGA TOUR, including two Disney Classic wins in 1992 and 1998, leads an accomplished list of sponsor exemptions, which also includes 2003 PGA Championship winner Micheel and five-time tour winner Billy Mayfair. Chris DiMarco was previously announced as sponsor exemption, but gained entrance into the tournament by way of his ranking this season. Mike Perez is the fourth sponsor exemption.
The winner of this year’s Classic will join an impressive group of former champions. That list includes 14 players who also have won “majors, such as Tiger Woods, Singh, Jack Nicklaus, Payne Stewart and Raymond Floyd.
Tournament rounds on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 will begin at 6:45 a.m. on both the Magnolia and Palm courses. At the conclusion of the second round, the field will be cut to the low 70 scores for the weekend round on the Magnolia course. All four rounds will be televised live on The Golf Channel from 1-4 p.m. ET, but fans in attendance can also experience the Wine & Dine Walk - five specialty locations offering culinary pairings of tapas-sized appetizers, entrees, desserts and wines from the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
Tickets for individual rounds ($10), week-long badges ($20) and a new one-day Wine & Dine ticket ($45) are available at www.ChildrensMiracleNetworkClassic.com or through http://www.ticketmaster.com/. The new Wine & Dine ticket is good for five entrees, one at each location, and one beverage. All net proceeds from the tournament go to Children's Miracle Network hospitals, including the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, and Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville.
Children’s Miracle Network
Children's Miracle Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals. Each year the 170 Children's Miracle Network hospitals provide the finest medical care, life-saving research and preventative education to help millions of kids overcome diseases and injuries of every kind. Thousands of special events and grassroots fund raisers are conducted year-round through a coalition of premier children’s hospitals, media partners and corporate volunteers working together to ensure healthy kids in their communities. To donate or to learn more, go to http://www.childrensmiraclenetwork.org/.
Walt Disney World Resort
Walt Disney World Resort is a contiguous 40-square-mile, world-class entertainment and recreation center featuring four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom); two water adventure parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon); 34 resort hotels (24 owned and operated by Walt Disney World, includes seven Disney Vacation Club resort properties); 81 holes of golf on five courses; two full-service spas; Disney’s Wedding Pavilion; ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex; and Downtown Disney, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex encompassing the Marketplace, Pleasure Island and West Side. Walt Disney World Resort is also included in vacation packages ofDisney Cruise Line. Located at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 20 miles southwest of Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort opened Oct. 1, 1971. Open daily, year-round.