After the LPGA’s Morgan Pressel and Jay Haas of the Champions Tour cruised to a two-stroke win at the 14th annual CVS Caremark Charity Classic on Tuesday, tourney co-host Brad Faxon announced that the event would return to Rhode Island Country Club for a 15th season. And next year, the Rhode Island native hopes to enlist newly crowned U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson and fellow New Englander and reigning PGA champ Keegan Bradley to join the fun.
“We tend to have our better fields when the U.S. Open’s on the East Coast,” Faxon told reporters about the unofficial two-day competition that attracts top golfers from the LPGA, PGA, and senior circuits, and is all about philanthropy. With next year’s Open at Merion Golf Club, right down Interstate 95 in Ardmore, Penn., Faxon was optimistic about loading the field with top talent.
“It will be easy to get guys from Philadelphia here,” he said. “And it’s always nice to get exciting and new players, too. If we can grab a Webb Simpson or a Keegan Bradley, that makes everybody happy, too.”
Faxon’s cohort, Billy Andrade, another Ocean State boy, was even more buoyant about the prospect of Open players wanting in on the festivities.
“We’re going to have a big problem next year,” Andrade said. “The U.S. Open’s on the East Coast and we’re going to have a lot of people wanting to be getting back in here.”
The tourney featured 20 pros from the three tours paired into 10 teams of two-player each, who teed it up in a better-ball format on Monday and a scramble on Tuesday. The event has raised more than $15 million for children and families since its inception in 1999. This year’s lineup was particularly impressive, with world No. 1 Yani Tseng, 17-year-old phenom Lexi Thompson, and retired superstars Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa among the luminaries.
As for the winners, Pressel and Haas could do no wrong as they made nine straight birdies from holes three through 11 and an eagle on 12. Indeed, it was fitting that Pressel, one of the first LPGA players to sign up for the event, became the first woman to be part of a winning team -- an extra bonus for the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship titleholder who works hard to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research through her own Morgan Pressel Foundation.
“There is no other event quite like this,” Pressel said after she and Haas breezed in at 21-under. “This is just the most amazing tournament to come, to play, the amount that’s raised for charity. ... We play a lot of golf on tour and some of it’s very stressful and this is just a lot of fun.
“It’s great to win -- it is about the charity -- but we don’t like to lose,” said Pressel, who arrived with tendinitis in her left wrist and was not sure she would be able to play at all.
Faxon, who was “pumped up” by the outpouring of support from the thousands of fans who milled through the gates of the 101-year-old Donald Ross-designed links course overlooking Narragansett Bay, was pleased that Pressel was on the winning team.
“I think this is good for golf in general, to have the LPGA here, to have them win, and everybody’s smiling,” he said, adding that the uncertainty about whether he and the gang would be back for another tilt was over. “We’re going to go ahead and do another one next year for sure.”