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Two-time MLB All-Star pitcher Mark Mulder surged to the lead in the third and final round to win the celebrity division of the $1.2 million Diamond Resorts Invitational at the Tranquilo Golf Club at the Four Seasons in Orlando, Florida on Sunday (January 15). The newly-minted tournament is a PGA Tour Champions Challenge Season event featuring senior PGA pros, LPGA stars and celebrities.
Mulder was the leader after the opening round on Friday (January 13) with 26 points. Mulder was the 4-1 second choice to Mardy Fish prior to the start of the tournament. The former St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland A’s hurler eagled the par-5 seventh and 12th holes–on a 25-yard chip-in and 25-foot putt, respectively–to pass NFL kicker Ryan Longwell and surprise second-round leader Ray Allen, the former 10-time NBA all-star.
Mulder’s eagles were worth six points apiece in a format that also awarded three points for birdie, one point for par, zero for bogey and minus two for double bogey.
Mulder totaled 30 points for a total of 77 and won by 10 over co-runners-up Mardy Fish(21 points Sunday) and Longwell (28). Allen, the two-time NBA world champion, double-bogeyed the par-4 17th from the fairway and fell to fourth with 66 points.
“I feel mentally I’m tougher than the next guy,” Mulder said. “I don’t know if pitching has anything to do with it, because pitching and hitting a golf ball are about the only things where nothing can happen until you go.” The long-hitting Mulder has won the last two American Century Championships for celebrity golfers in Lake Tahoe.
PGA TOUR Champions and Diamond Resorts International® have announced that the second annual Diamond Resorts Invitational benefiting Florida Hospital for Children will feature Champions Tour professionals - including John Daly, Mark Calcavecchia, John Cook, Lee Janzen, Scott Hoch, Chad Pfeifer and Jeff Sluman - competing alongside sports and entertainment celebrities for separate purses totaling $1.25 million. All three rounds of the January 13-15event at Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort will be nationally televised on Golf Channel.
The tournament will feature up to 30 PGA TOUR Champions players and up to 50 top-tier athlete and entertainment celebrities in two distinct competitions, utilizing a Modified Stableford scoring format which awards points as opposed to strokes – similar to the PGA TOUR’s Barracuda Championship.
Defending champion Mardy Fish will be challenged by such celebrities as Marcus Allen, Roger Clemens, Josh Donaldson, Colt Ford, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Brian McCann, Kevin Millar, Mark Mulder, Blair O’Neal, Alfonso Ribeiro, Jeremy Roenick, Mark Rypien, John Smoltz, Brian Urlacher, Justin Verlander, and Larry the Cable Guy.
“We are excited to offer our players a chance to compete alongside some of the most recognizable names in entertainment and sports in this unique ‘Challenge Season’ event,” said PGA TOUR Champions President Greg McLaughlin. “Proceeds from the tournament’s live and silent auctions will benefit Florida Hospital for Children and leave a lasting charitable impact.”
PGA TOUR Champions players will compete for $750,000 over the 54-hole tournament, while the celebrities will play for a $500,000 purse. Threesomes will include one Champions Tour professional and two celebrities.
Invited celebrities will include active Major League Baseball and NFL football players, as well as former NBA and NHL stars, plus musical artists, comedians and other entertainers. The entire field places an emphasis on notable golfers and celebrities appealing to fans and families both locally in Orlando and internationally via Golf Channel.
“This partnership reflects the continuing growth and evolution of the Diamond Resorts Invitational, now with this unique format and $1.25 million in prize money,” said Michael Flaskey, executive vice president, chief sales and marketing officer, Diamond Resorts International®. "Our combination of professional golfers and celebrities will capture the public's imagination and generate maximum funding for Florida Hospital for Children."
The singular format allows for a distinct competition as all professionals and celebrities play their own ball and compete from the same tees for 54 holes.
Though not part of the Charles Schwab Cup season-long competition, the Diamond Resorts Invitational is the final “Challenge Season” tournament before the Tour’s Regular Season opening event the following week, January 16-22 at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai at Hualalai Golf Club in Ka'upulehu-Kona, Hawaii.
This past January, the inaugural Diamond Resorts Invitational featured 70 celebrities in the field with former No. 1-ranked American tennis player Mardy Fish winning the event. Activities for the whole family took place throughout tournament week and the silent and live auctions raised $503,000 in charitable donations for Florida Hospital for Children.
Florida Hospital for Children is one of the premier children’s hospitals in the nation, setting standards for innovation, quality and comprehensive care. The child-centric healing environment designed to keep kids comfortable is complemented by a staff of world-class doctors, specialists, nurses and healthcare professionals utilizing advanced technologies, therapies and treatments. Florida Hospital for Children’s team of over 135 highly skilled pediatric specialists delivers extraordinary care across more than 35 pediatric subspecialties, including a children's emergency department, the Level IV Comprehensive Pediatric Epilepsy Center, a world-renowned pediatric heart center and a Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“Florida Hospital for Children is excited to again partner with Diamond Resorts International to bring this world-class, family-friendly event to Central Florida,” said Marla Silliman, Senior Executive Officer of Florida Hospital for Children. “The proceeds of this year’s auctions held in connection with the tournament will benefit not only the care of our littlest patients, but also advancements in detection and treatment of epilepsy and pediatric cancer.”
Tournament week will begin Thursday, January 12 with the fourth-annual Brian Gay Pro-Am presented by Diamond Resorts International®. Gay, a four-time PGA TOUR winner and longtime Orlando resident, will serve as host of the 18-hole celebrity-amateur competition, which will feature foursomes comprised of three amateurs and one celebrity or PGA TOUR Champions player. An evening gala and headliner concert at Mystic Dunes Resort and Golf Club, a Diamond Resorts flagship resort in Orlando, will complement the day’s events.
The Champions Gala is a highlight of the event with its gourmet dinner and headliner concerts that have featured Huey Lewis and the News, Darius Rucker, Colt Ford and Jake Owen. The accompanying live and silent auctions have raised more than $1.7 million for Florida Hospital for Children the past three years.
The tournament site, Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Orlando is unique to Central Florida for its varying elevation, abundant wildlife and protected wetlands. Originally built in 1992 and designed by Tom Fazio as Osprey Ridge, Fazio enhanced the Orlando golf course for its October 2014 launch as Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Orlando. The course is a par 71 and plays to 6,901 yards.
For more information on the Diamond Resorts Invitational, please visit www.DiamondResortsInvitational.com.
About Diamond Resorts International®:
Diamond Resorts International, with its network of more than 370 vacation destinations located in 35 countries throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa, provides guests with choice and flexibility to let them create their dream vacation, whether traveling an hour away or around the world. Our relaxing vacations have the power to give guests an increased sense of happiness and satisfaction in their lives, while feeling healthier and more fulfilled in their relationships by enjoying memorable and meaningful experiences that let them “Stay Vacationed.™”
Diamond Resorts International® manages vacation ownership resorts and sells vacation ownership points that provide members and owners with Vacations for Life® at over 370 managed and affiliated properties and cruise itineraries.
About Florida Hospital for Children:
Florida Hospital for Children is a seven-story, 201-bed state-of-the-art facility designed with the help of Walt Disney Imagineers, families and clinicians. Our team of over 135 highly skilled pediatric specialists delivers extraordinary care across more than 35 pediatric subspecialties, including a Children's Emergency Department, the Level IV Comprehensive Pediatric Epilepsy Center, a world-renowned Pediatric Heart Center and our Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). With more than 23 pediatric specialty surgeons performing complex operations in a safe and child friendly environment, Florida Hospital for Children is a destination for health and healing. Learn more at www.FloridaHospitalforChildren.com.
About PGA TOUR Champions
PGA TOUR Champions is a membership organization of golfers age 50 and older, with the most recognizable and accomplished players in the game - including 34 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, which compete regularly in its events. PGA TOUR Champions is where Legends play, and is home to The Ultimate Clubhouse. Conceived in 1980 as the Senior PGA Tour, it started with just four events and purses totaling $475,000. The primary purpose of PGA TOUR Champions is to provide financial opportunities for its players, entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back, protect the integrity of the game and generate significant charitable and economic impact in communities in which it plays. In 2016, the newly-introduced Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs will identify and recognize the Tour’s leading player via a season-long race for the Charles Schwab Cup. The Commissioner of the PGA TOUR is Tim Finchem. Greg McLaughlin is President of PGA TOUR Champions. The PGA TOUR’s website is pgatour.com, the No. 1 site in golf, and the organization is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Follow PGA TOUR Champions at facebook.com/PGATOURChampions and on Twitter @ChampionsTour.
Scott Parel, who spent 10 years as a computer programmer before turning professional at age 31, went wire-to-wire in winning the third annual, 54-hole Diamond Resorts Invitational on Sunday in a playoff over fellow PGA Tour Champions player Scott Dunlap. Two-major champion John Daly finished third.
In his second year on the over-50 tour, Parel was flu-ridden for two days until tournament eve and didn’t play a practice round. But, despite feeling achy, he birdied nine holes in the first round at the par-71, 6,675-yard Tranquilo Golf Club and led after each day under the Modified Stableford System.
“Beware the injured animal,” Parel said.
Parel won the 32-player professional division with a par on the first sudden-death playoff hole, the 203-yard 18th, where Dunlap hit a fat 5-iron shot short into water and double-bogeyed. Dunlap didn’t have a 4-iron in his bag and said he tried to “squeeze more out of the 5 than I probably could.”
On the same hole in regulation, Dunlap had made an 8-foot birdie putt for three points after hitting a downwind 5-iron approach and Parel failed to get up and down for par and victory.
“I think low expectations (helped),” Parel said. “My expectations were just to try to finish and do the best I can.”
Canadian Brooke Henderson, 20, a five-time LPGA winner playing from the same tees as the men, finished seventh with 80 points, 13 behind the winner. Henderson made 15 birdies over three days and scored 20 points more than the next best of among four LPGA players, Brittany Lincicome.
Former No. 1-ranked American tennis player Mardy Fish won the 52-man celebrity division for the second time in three years. He finished with 75 points. Next were nine-time NHL all-star Jeremy Roenick at 61 and 2017 winner Mark Mulder with 60.
Mulder was four points back after birdieing Nos. 11-12, but he fell nine behind when he drove into left woods at 13 and double-bogeyed while Fish birdied.
“That was the difference,” Fish said. “A huge momentum swing. Any time you go backwards, you can’t get away with those things.” Mulder also double-bogeyed the par-4 15th.
Modified Stableford scoring awards six points for an eagle, three for birdie, one for par, zero for bogey and minus two for double bogey or worse. Champions and LPGA players competed for $750,000, the celebrities for $500,000.
Former SuperSonics, Celtics and Heat star and 10-time NBA All-Star Ray Allen, buoyed by eight birdie putts, took the lead in the second round of play with 50 points in the $1.25 million Diamond Resorts Invitational at the Tranquilo Golf Club at the Four Seasons in Orlando, Florida. Two-time MLB All-Star Mark Mulder, who was atop the celebrity leader board with 26 points after Friday’s opening round, is in a second place tie with tennis standoutMardy Fish, each with 47 points in the modified Stableford scoring tourney.
A PGA affiliated event, the competitors also include former Red Sox Kevin Millar, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon, as well as three former Atlanta Braves World Champion Hall of Famers John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, as well Brian McCann, and NFL Hall of Famers Marcus Allen and Emmitt Smith. The Diamond Resorts Invitational has raised $2 million for the Florida Hospital for Children in recent years.
The Diamond Resorts continues tomorrow (Sunday, January 15) with the final round of play to be televised by The Golf Channel with Allen trying to protect his lead with Mulder and Fish in hot pursuit.
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About Steve Griffith,
General Manager, Vizion Group
Parel, Fish win the Diamond Resorts Invitational
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A twenty five-year professional in Public Relations and Marketing Communications, Steve Griffith has worked at the highest levels in the New York City agency world and at NBC Sports, Madison Square Garden, The Festival Group, Main Events, and the Worldwide Senior Tennis Circuit. He is an elite talent who specializes in the application of state-of-the-art tactics to reach the desired result.
He works with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment on a year-round basis as the lead PR executive for the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe (televised by NBC Sports each July) and for the Diamond Resorts Invitational PGA TOUR Champions pro/LPGA/celebrity competition (televised by Golf Channel each January). The list of major personalities he interacts with regularly includes Charles Barkley, Justin Verlander, Emmitt Smith, Ray Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Donaldson, Jason Kidd, John Smoltz, John Elway, Mark Rypien, Joe Theismann, John Daly, Brittany Lincicome, Pat Day and Steve Cauthen.
He is the public relations force behind The National Dog Show Presented by Purina, the NBC Thanksgiving Day special that produced the highest Nielsen TV rating in its 15-year history in 2016, bucking a decades-long trend of diminished viewership levels for all programming.
He served as co-general manager of Taylor Strategy’s Pyramid Public Relations, helping to grow the business into a $3 million agency in less than two years. At NBC, he promoted all major events in the Sports Division, including the Super Bowl, the World Series, Wimbledon, the Rose Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the Big East college basketball tournament.
At Madison Square Garden, Griffith was the only director who served on both the Public Relations and Marketing committees for company-wide initiatives. His day-to-day responsibilities included duties specific to Madison Square Garden Network and Boxing, both of which thrived during his tenure.
Griffith’s past and current client list also includes QuintEvents and its partnerships with the Kentucky Derby, Formula 1, NBA All-Star Game and the Pro Football Hall of Fame; NFL Players Golf Club, Purina Incredible Dog Challenge, Kennel Club of Philadelphia, Marucci Sports and Kevin Sullivan Communications.
Mark Rypien Interviews
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Vizion PR Group