Three surprising announcements came out of the press conference held today at Firestone Country Club about the 2019 replacement for the Bridgestone Invitational.
It was made clear weeks ago that the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship would take over for the current World Golf Championships event at Firestone South starting next year. Nothing new there.
But along with the main sponsor Bridgestone, a new Founding Partner was announced for the tournament in 2019, Westfield Insurance. And this new Founding Partner will use its own long-time ties to golf — and the two golf courses that it owns locally in Westfield Center — to do something a bit out of the ordinary: host a second pro-am during tournament week.
Firestone Country Club will host one official pro-am on the Wednesday of tournament week, featuring the top Champions players committed to the event. This type of pro-am is common at most tour stops — except for the WGC events, of course, so Akron hasn’t had one for a good long while.
But on top of that Wednesday pro-am, Westfield will use its Westfield Country Club’s South Course to host a second pro-am during tournament week. This pro-am will take place on Thursday of tournament week — opposite the first day of play for the main event! — and will feature PGA TOUR Champions players over the age of 60. That event will be called the Westfield Legends Pro-Am.
But perhaps most surprising of all, and recognizing that many of the details still need to be worked out, there is a possibility that those age 60+ Champions players will stick around Akron to compete in a separate 2-day team-format event at Firestone on the Friday and Saturday of the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship.
That’s a shocker.
It’s clear that the TOUR and the event management at Firestone are trying to soften the tough blow that is the exit of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. Give them credit, these are some out-of-the-box ideas.
Check out the official press release below, and watch NEOHgolf.com for future details in the months ahead…
Westfield recognized as Founding Partner of 2019 Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship
Charitable proceeds from partnership set to benefit Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank
AKRON, Ohio – Tournament officials announced today that Westfield has signed a four-year agreement with the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship to serve as Founding Partner through 2022. As part of the sponsorship, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank will be a charity recipient through support from Westfield and the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS. The major championship will be held the week of July 8-14, 2019 at Firestone Country Club’s South Course.
The announcement came Wednesday afternoon at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in a press conference with Executive Director Don Padgett, PGA TOUR Champions President Greg McLaughlin and Westfield President and CEO Ed Largent. As part of the interview with members of the Northeast Ohio press, Padgett, McLaughlin and Largent expanded on the newly formed partnership.
“Community support is an integral part of a tournament’s success, so to see such a prominent company in Northeast Ohio sign on to partner with the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS is a remarkable beginning to a new chapter in golf for Akron,” said Padgett. “PGA TOUR Champions is thrilled to continue the 65-year legacy of professional golf at Firestone Country Club, and the ability to do so is thanks to partners like Westfield.”
Helping communities during times of need is deeply engrained in Westfield’s 170-year history in Northeast Ohio. The Westfield Insurance Foundation was established as an independent private foundation endowed by Westfield and exists as a dedicated community and industry partner; concentrating resources to improve the safety and stability of communities.
“We are thrilled to support the greater Akron community in a new capacity for years to come,” said Largent. “It’s a commitment that supports our vision as a caring company and we are proud to lend our ongoing support to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.”
The Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS will feature two official pro-ams during tournament week. The official tournament pro-am will be contested at Firestone Country Club’s South Course on Wednesday, July 10, with the Westfield Legends Pro-Am set for Thursday, July 11 at Westfield Country Club. The Legends Pro-Am will feature PGA TOUR Champions players age 60 and over competing in a pro-am format at the nearby club, which is currently undergoing a renovation by famed architect Michael Hurdzan.
The major 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. Bridgestone’s agreement as title sponsor is in place through 2022, ensuring professional golf’s 65-year tradition in Northeast Ohio. Along with its stature as a major championship, the event will continue to offer its champion a return trip to the PGA TOUR with an exemption into THE PLAYERS Championship.
The 2017 SENIOR PLAYERS Championship was contested at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois where Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to defeat Jeff Maggert and win his first major championship on PGA TOUR Champions. Singh comes to Firestone Country Club in 2019 as defending champion of the event, and a past champion of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (2008).
ABOUT THE BRIDGESTONE SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
The Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS is one of five major championships contested annually on PGA TOUR Champions for eligible professionals age 50 and over. The 2019 tournament will be held the week of July 8-14 at Firestone Country Club’s South Course, ensuring professional golf’s 65-year tradition in Northeast Ohio. 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, Fox Chapel Golf Club, Westchester Country Club and Exmoor Country Club. A field of 78 professionals will compete for a share of the $2.8 million purse with the champion earning a $420,000 price and an exemption into THE PLAYERS Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
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.
Westfield was founded in 1848 by a small group of hard-working neighbors who looked out for each other and what they’d built together. They believed in the strength of the individual, the power of community and the promise of tomorrow. Today, as one of the nation’s leading Property & Casualty companies, we remain true to their vision. We are dedicated to your protection and prosperity and to the progress of the world around us. Learn more about Westfield at www.westfieldinsurance.com
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.