12 Granted Exemptions for 2007 BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs Golf Tournament
Thomas Aiken, Darren Angel, Brent Delahoussaye, Tommy ‘Two Gloves” Gainey, Jay Haas, Jr., Ben Hayes, Kevin Hall, P.H. Horgan III, Payton Osborn, Larry Rinker, Tommy Tolles and Stan Utley have been granted exemptions to participate in this year’s BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs golf tournament, which will be played May 17-20, 2007, at The Cliffs Valley, The Cliffs at Walnut Cove and The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards.
Aiken is a rookie on the Nationwide Tour and only has two career starts, both in 2005. He finished T19 at the Knoxville Open and missed the cut at the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic. Aiken has competed in one event this year on the European Tour, the South African Airways Open where he finished tied for 77th earning $1,812. Aiken is a 23-year-old South African. He has won six tournaments the past three seasons in South Africa and was South Africa’s top amateur in 2001.
Angel was a four year All-American at Arizona State University who helped lead the Sun Devils to the 1995-96 national golf championship. He played on the Nike Tour in 2000 before nerve damage to both of his elbows caused him to take five-and-a-half-years off to recover. He also underwent back surgery in 2005. He currently competes in any professional golfing event he can and has played on the Canadian and Gateway Tours.
Delahoussaye is a Clemson University graduate and Greenville native that played high school golf at Riverside. A 2004-05 second-team All-American, Delahoussaye won the Monroe Invitational in the summer of 2003, then had four consecutive top 10 finishes at national amateur events in 2004. He was Clemson’s highest ranked player in the world amateur rankings according to Golfweek heading into the spring of 2005 with a No. 10 rating.
Gainey is best known as a contestant in the Golf Channel’s hit reality TV show, Big Break IV. The Bishopville, S.C. native has gained the nickname “Two Gloves” because he wears two gloves when he competes. This self-made golfer, who carries a +1 handicap, once shot a 59 during a friendly round with some Nationwide Tour buddies. Gainey spent years working as an assembly line worker in a water heater factory and a furniture mover to keep money in his pocket and earn enough to play a round of golf when he could. Finances always were an obstacle. It finally took a friend willing to risk $750 so Gainey could play in his first professional event. Fortunately, Tommy was able to make that money back – and then some – by winning the event and $15,000.
Haas, Jr. is the son of legendary golf pro Jay Haas. The Greenville native played at Augusta State University and caddied for his father in the 1999 PGA Championship.
Hayes currently plays on the Canadian Tour, where his best finish this year came at the Corona Mazatlan Classic. His best finish ever came in 2006 when he finished second at the Diablo Grande California Classic. Hayes closed out the 2006 season 33rd on money list and he qualified for the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Hayes was an NCAA All-American while at USC in 2004-05 and was the 2001-02 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
Hall is a crowd favorite. Deaf since he was two years old, he didn’t let that stop him from becoming valedictorian of his high school or from becoming the first African-American to play golf on scholarship for Ohio State. He also led the Buckeyes to the Big 10 title. He turned pro in 2006, competing and missing the cut in three PGA TOUR events – the Memorial Tournament, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Horgan III competed on the PGA TOUR from 1989-94 and 1997-2000. His best finish on tour was fifth place in the 1997 Greater Vancouver Open. He was a member of the Nationwide Tour in 1991, 1994-96, and 2003-04, where he won three tournaments (the Yuma Open and the Macon Open in 1991 and the Alabama Classic in 1996). He only competed in two Nationwide Tour events last year. Of his 38 Nationwide events, he has made the cut in 10 and has recorded three top-10 finishes.
Osborn was a baseball player first before taking up golf in 1998 after undergoing elbow surgery. His only start on either the Nationwide Tour or the PGA TOUR came in 2004 when he missed the cut at the U.S Open. Osborn has played on the Gateway Tour and has two wins on the Emerald Coast Tour.
Rinker comes from one of the premier golf playing families in the history of the sport. Brother Lee just joined the PGA, while sister Laurie and sister-in-law Kelli play on the LPGA. A consistent Tour performer, Rinker was a dominant college golfer at the University of Florida, and before joining the PGA, he once won six mini-tour tournaments in a single year. In 1982 he played in the last group in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach finishing fifteenth. Rinker led the Tour in putting in 1990.
Tolles is a Flat Rock, N.C. native who played at the University of Georgia. Tolles was a member of the Nationwide Tour from 1991-94, 2003 and 2006. He was a member of the PGA TOUR from 1995-2002 and 2004. He made the cut in 10 of 25 Nationwide Tour starts in 2006, with three top-10 finishes, ending the season No. 87 with earnings of $61,838. He has won twice on the Nationwide Tour (Ozarks Open in 1993; Alabama Classic in 1994) and has two second-place finishes on the PGA TOUR (The Players Championship in 1996; the Sony Open in Hawaii in 1999).
Utley, who splits time between the PGA TOUR and the Nationwide Tour, is best known as a short-game teaching guru to many PGA TOUR players. He tied for third place in the 2002 BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs golf tournament, and has one PGA TOUR victory and three Nationwide Tour wins to his credit. A two-time All-American at Missouri, Utley hosts an annual “Go for the Gold” skins game that benefits a safe house for children.
The 2007 BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs golf tournament will be played May 17-20, 2007, at The Cliffs Valley, The Cliffs at Walnut Cove and The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards golf courses. All four rounds will be televised live by the Golf Channel.
The BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs is the only tournament on the Nationwide Tour where amateurs and celebrities are grouped with Nationwide Tour professionals in a three-day better-ball competition. Amateurs, celebrities and pros will rotate between each of the three courses on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the 14 lowest scoring pro-amateur/pro-celebrity teams advancing to play Sunday’s final round. Celebrities will play once at each course on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Along with a brand new BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle, the professional winner of the overall 72-hole event will take home $117,000 from the total purse of $650,000, which is one of the largest purses on the Nationwide Tour. Amateurs and celebrities will compete for individual prizes and cash donations to the charity of their choice out of the beneficiaries selected by South Carolina Charities, Inc.
The first six tournaments have raised more than $3.7 million for 80+ area charities.
General Admission tickets for the 2007 BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs can be purchased for $25 through one of the 20 selected charities or by calling (864) 297-1660. Tickets can also be purchased in Upstate S.C. and Western N.C. area Arby’s restaurants. Children 14 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Corporate sponsorships and ticket packages that include VIP and Clubhouse tickets can also be purchased by calling (864) 297-1660.
For more information on the BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs golf tournament, sponsorship opportunities, charitable funding or volunteer opportunities, call (864) 297-1660 or visit the tournament’s website at www.bmwcharitygolf.com.