ALGONQUIN, IL – There were putting contests, live bands, pink suits, enough beer to fill a swimming pool, and more games of Golden Tee played than you could possibly imagine. And yet, the Golden Tee Players Charity Championship—which took place at Nero’s in Algonquin, IL—was much more than a celebration of the greatest game on the planet; it was a showcase of what a community can accomplish when it comes together.
We’ll get to the tournament momentarily, and it was spectacular, but we must first begin with a very important number.
That’s how much money was raised for SALUTE, INC., The Nikolas Ritschel Foundation and Starlight Children's Foundation. All three charities were chosen as benefactors for the PCC, and all three were in attendance to celebrate the weekend.
The big check presentation—a staple for all PCCs—took place Saturday night. It was a special moment for all of those in attendance.
How was so much money raised? It was the overwhelming generosity from the players in attendance and also those of you who contributed. It cannot be stressed enough just what this money means, and we simply cannot thank everyone enough for stepping up.
The top 10 fundraisers were each celebrated at the event.
Here is the group from left to right: Steve Sobel, Al Zerull, Richard King (in his amazing pink suit), Tony Johnson, Jon Biedermann, Chuck Speiser, Steve Moskalin, Rob Anderson and Brian Allen. Not pictured: Matthew Ritenour.
There was also a golf tournament.
In fact, you will not find a tougher Golden Tee tournament field all year. While the charities served as the centerpiece for the weekend, the players that helped raised an incredible amount of money also arrived at Nero’s—some traveling great distances—to compete in one of the toughest tournaments of the year.
On Saturday, 77 players teed it up in the PCC, all with their eyes set on one of the game’s most coveted titles. Each played participated in the five-course qualifier, a way to determine the top 32 players in the main bracket.
When it was all said and done, Missouri’s Evan Gossett was tops overall. His score of -129 led the pack. Illinois golfer Jeff Lannen and Houston’s Mark Stenmark each fired -127s to finish second and third, while Minnesota’s Andy Fox and Ohio native Andy Haas both shot -126 to round out the top five.
The top 10 was as follows.
The cut came in right at -109. With qualifying complete, the 32-man, double-elimination bracket was set for match play. Those matches began on Sunday, and the strength of the field was evident out of the gate.
Regular tournament favorites such as Mark Stenmark and Andy Haas—perhaps the two best players in the world—saw exits earlier than anticipated. With so many established tournament players involved, each match seemed to come down to a stroke or two, many of which were decided in sudden death.
And yet, as the carnage in both brackets continued, there were two Minnesota players navigating it all.
Both Andy Fox and Chris Thorbrogger have played in the biggest tournaments imaginable. Both, regardless of how much they’ve played prior to the events, have also garnered the reputation of being some of the best head-to-head players in the world. Such reputations were only furthered this weekend.
Fox’s path to the finals was anything but easy. After winning his first two matches, he and Texas golfer Ed Godfrey each fired -27s on Pelican Grove to go into overtime. On the second hole, however, Fox picked up a stroke to move on. He then took out Evan Gossett in his next match, and he followed that up with a tight one-shot victory over Paul Tayloe to secure king of the hill honors and a spot in the final.
Thorbrogger’s path wasn’t as clean, although it was effective. After losing to Tayloe after some early victories, he was sent to the other side of the bracket. With no room for error, Thor took out Graig Kinzler and Evan Gossett—shooting -27 in each game—and followed that up with a redemption sudden death victory over Tayloe.
It set up an all-Minnesota final between he and Fox, and it did not disappoint. Because Fox had yet to lose, Thor would have to beat him twice.
Playing on Pelican Grove, the two each shot -23 to send the match into sudden death. On the third hole, however, Fox had an uphill eagle chip to secure the game—and the tournament—and he converted it as the silent room erupted.
With that, he added another impressive trophy to a case filled with enormous tournament accolades. Thorbrogger took home second place, while Tayloe rounded out the top three.
The top four in the tournament can be seen below. From left to right: Paul Tayloe, Chris Thorbrogger, Andy Fox, Paige Gossett (Power Events), Evan Gossett and Steve Sobel (Power Events).
Some special thanks are in order, the list much longer than the typical tournament.
First, thank you to Power Events for ensuring things ran smoothly. They are the best in the business at running live Golden Tee tournaments, and that was once again evident this weekend.
Thank you to Steve Churak and Jon Biedermann—along with the rest of the Underdog crew—for putting together a spectacular PCC. It takes time, patience and countless hours to put together a weekend like this, and the entire thing ran brilliantly.
Thank you to everyone from SALUTE, INC., The Nikolas Ritschel Foundation and Starlight Children's Foundation who came out, some of which played in the event.
Without you, the weekend would not be what it was. Your presence was an integral part in the celebration, and thank you for doing what you do each and every day. On that same note, thank you to everyone at Nero's for wonderful service and treatment all weekend.
And last but certainly not least, thank you to the players who traveled to Nero’s and everyone who donated to the PCC. Without you all, there is no PCC. Your generosity and camaraderie is what makes this event unique from all others.