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Apr 16, 2018 2:24 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

USGA To Unveil New 'Celebration Of Champions' Event At U.S. Open At Shinnecock

From left, Butch Goring, Clark Gillies, Sean Knapp, John Starks, Grant Marshall, Boomer Esiason, Brian Lawton, Mike Davis and Rod Gilbert. CAILIN RILEY
Apr 17, 2018 5:03 PM

Fanfare surrounding the upcoming 118th U.S. Open Championship—set for the second week in June at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club—kicked into high gear last week after the USGA made a big announcement at a press conference in midtown Manhattan.

On June 12, the second day of practice rounds, the USGA will host its inaugural “Celebration of Champions,” a four-hole public exhibition showcasing reigning champions from 2017 in all of the USGA’s championships.

The four-hole match, set to take place on the 10th through 13th holes at Shinnecock, with a shotgun start at 4:45 p.m., will feature 12 champions in male-female pairings, playing in foursomes, in an alternate shot format.

Current U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka will be on site to welcome the champions, and legendary golfer and course designer Jack Nicklaus—who won eight USGA championships in his career—will be the honorary starter in what the USGA says will become an annual tradition at the Open.

Michael Davis, the CEO of the USGA, was on hand on Wednesday, April 11, at Konnect Golf, a sleek indoor golf club on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, featuring several “hitting bays” equipped with large screens that simulate golf holes from around the world and track a player’s swing.

He spoke to a crowd, which included media members as well as several legendary current and former pro athletes representing New York: New York Rangers great Rod Gilbert, former New York Knicks guard John Starks, and former New York Jets quarterback and current radio personality Boomer Esiason.

Mr. Davis spoke about the creation of the Celebration of Champions, saying the USGA had long desired to find a way to honor its many champions, and he pointed out that at every level—from the junior amateur ranks to the senior open division—golfers repeatedly say that the USGA championships are the most coveted.

He added that a U.S. Open-ready course like Shinnecock Hills, steeped in history and tradition as one of the five founding member clubs of the USGA, will provide the perfect stage for the 2017 champions.

“It’s a great golf course,” Mr. Davis said. “It’s in everybody’s top five when it comes to places where they want to play. And the players love it.”

Mr. Nicklaus addressed the media in a recorded conversation that was played at the press conference, and spoke about what it means to him to be part of the event.

“I’ve always loved USGA championships,” he said. “I always felt that the USGA did the best job of preparing a golf course that will completely test you and every part of your game.”

The players who will take on that test in the inaugural event include: U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Champions Ben Wong and Frankie Capan; U.S. Amateur Women’s Four-Ball Champions Alice Chen and Taylor Totland; U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Kelsey Chugg; U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion Matt Parziale; U.S. Amateur Champion Doc Redman; U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion Sophia Schubert; U.S. Junior Amateur Champion Noah Goodwin; U.S. Senior Amateur Champion Sean Knapp; U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Champion Judith Kyrinis; and U.S. Senior Open Champion Kenny Perry.

Rolex is sponsoring the event, which will be broadcast on FoxSports1.

Prior to sharing news of the Celebration of Champions event, the USGA also announced the start of its U.S. Open Trophy Tour, presented by Lexus. The tour will give fans in the New York City area a chance to see the trophy up close in the weeks leading up to the tournament.

Stops will include the New York Jets’ Draft Day Party, the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.

Fans who post a photo of themselves with the trophy and includes the hashtags #USOpen and #sweepstakes on Twitter or Instagram will get a chance to win tickets to the Open or a grand prize of three days and two nights at the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California. An up-to-date schedule can be found at usopen.com/trophytour.

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By knitter (1941), Southampton on Apr 16, 18 5:51 PM
Excellent! Some of the monies raised can be used to build the TUNNEL!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 16, 18 5:56 PM
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