Sports

Golfing royalty was in Bradenton on Tuesday. Here's why.

Jack Nicklaus at the Concession Cup press conference at The Concession Golf Club.
Jack Nicklaus at the Concession Cup press conference at The Concession Golf Club. ttompkins@bradenton.com

It's a moment in golf's history kept alive in the form of a golf course in East Manatee.

Jack Nicklaus conceding a two-foot putt to Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder Cup serves as the inspiration behind The Concession Golf Club, which the two co-designed.

Peter McEvoy played with Jack Nicklaus in the 1979 Masters. The two were in Bradenton on Tuesday for this year's Concession Cup introductory press conference.

This week, the course is on center stage for the bi-annual Concession Cup. It's an event that pits the United States against Great Britain & Ireland in a match play format. The teams are comprised of mid-amateurs, senior amateurs and super senior amateurs.

On Tuesday, Nicklaus and Jacklin were introduced at the club as honorary captains for this year's tournament, a role they've served in the past.

"It's nice to have it be an amateur event," Nicklaus said. "We need more amateur events that recognize the skills and the levels of a lot of players. There's a lot of good amateur players in this world."

It's a free tournament for the public to watch, and it promises to showcase some elite amateur golf.

"I always say they are the best players that never turn pro," said Bradenton's Paul Azinger, who is a former major champion and is the tournament's honorary chair for a third time. "And they really are. They can shoot some ridiculously great scores. They hit great shots, and they hit them when they need them most. ... You're going to see a high level of play here, and it's for a good cause."

That cause is a golf tournament benefiting multiple charities.

They include Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, The First Tee of Sarasota/Manatee, The First Tee of Tampa Bay, Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People, the Paul and Toni Azinger Compassion Center, and the Amateur Golf Alliance.

"No other sport does what we do," Nicklaus said. "Sure, they get involved and so forth, but golf gets involved tremendously."

The tournament begins Thursday with foursome, or alternate shot, matches. On Friday, competitors play in a fourball, or best ball, format.

The tournament concludes Saturday with singles matches.

The United States is the two-time defending champion.

Team USA members are Stewart Hagestad, Scott Harvey, Michael McDermott, Matt Parziale, Nathan Smith, Todd White, Gene Elliott, Doug Hanzel, Tim Jackson, Sean Knapp, John McClure, Matt Sughrue, Paul Simson and Buddy Marucci.

GB&I members are David Corben, Matt Clark, Jack Gaunt, Bobby Leopold, Peter O'Keefe, Simon Richardson, Graham Bell, Ronnie Clark, Ian Crowther, Stephen East, Bryan Hughes, Garth McGimpsey, Alan Mew and Adrian Morrow.

Vinny Giles reprises his role as Team USA captain, though in a non-playing capacity this year, while Peter McEvoy leads GB&I.

For more information, visit concessioncup.com.

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