Woonsocket Call

CVS Classic down to 1 day

Six players from PGA, LPGA, Champions Tours headed to RICC in June

- By BRENDAN McGAIR bmcgair@pawtuckett­imes.com

PROVIDENCE – Staying innovative and fresh have been staples of the CVS Health Charity Classic since its inception in 1999.

What’s in store for the 19th installmen­t, set for next month at Barrington’s scenic Rhode Island Country Club, will represent a seismic shift from how golf business has been conducted. Instead of the traditiona­l two-day, 36-hole pursuit, the 2017 CVS event will encompass only one day of birdie making and long drives from some of the best from the PGA, LPGA, and Champions tours.

“I haven’t thought about what a one-day event could do long term for CVS Health, but it’s easier to get a Tour player to commit to a one-day event as opposed to two,” said co-host Brad Faxon Thursday at a press conference at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. “We’ve always tried to battle with, ‘What’s the best date? Is it right after the U.S. Open? Is it before the [Connecticu­t-based] Travelers since the players are already going to be in Hartford?’

“I think this [new CVS format] gives us a chance to get some players who haven’t been here,” Faxon added. “We don’t have the money to pay the Jordan Spieths or Ricky Fowlers of the world … the big money they get for their corporate days. But it would be a lot easier to do it over one day than over two.”

Traditiona­lly, the crowds for the Monday portion of the CVS Classic have been stronger than what you typically see on a Tuesday, when 8 a.m. tee times are done so that the golfers have enough time to move on to their next stop. Faxon noted the start time for this year’s CVS will be pushed back with the hope of generating a bigger on-site gallery.

“I think this new format is going to have more appeal for people to watch,” Faxon said.

Added fellow CVS co-host Billy Andrade, who like Faxon will once again be part of the CVS field, “It’s still going strong and people get excited about it.”

The one-day tournament is set for Monday, June 19 at RICC and will feature 18 of the sport’s top golfers. There will be six, threeplaye­r teams featuring one player from each respective Tour. The top two scorers from each hole per group will count towards the final score. Team pairings will be released as the event draws closer.

This year’s star power includes five players in the field for next month’s U.S. Open – Keegan Bradley, Tony Finau, Bill Haas, Billy Horschel and Smylie Kaufman. Barring a playoff, the Open will conclude on Sunday, June 18. Faxon certainly has his fingers crossed that will prove to be the case since he’s once again part of Fox’s U.S. Open television coverage.

Representi­ng the LPGA will be Paula Creamer, Brooke Henderson, Cristie Kerr, Gerina Piller, Morgan Pressel and Lexi Thompson. Pressel teamed with Jay Haas to win the 2012 CVS event. Speaking of Jay Hass, he’ll be in the CVS field as part of the Champions delegation along with two-time major champion Mark O’Mara, World Golf Hall of Famer Colin Montgomori­e, two-time Masters winner Bernhard Langer, and of course, the hosts.

“This might be the best field we’ve ever had,” CVS CEO Larry Merlo proclaimed.

Faxon said he received phone calls from PGA notables Paul Casey and Louis Oosthuizen after the list of CVS contestant­s was set. No doubt, Casey and Ossthuzien had caught wind of the plan to trim the CVS Classic to a one-day commitment, which in these hectic times for a pro golfer seems to hold much greater appeal.

“We’re always trying to fill this field as quickly as we can,” Faxon said.

The CVS Classic is believed to be one of the last charity-driven golf events of its kind.

“Of the top of my head, I can’t think of any of this magnitude … the money raised and seeing it go to all the different charities,” Andrade said. “Without CVS, this would not happen.”

Andrade was recently at Bill Haas’ pro-am event with the two Wake Forest alums sharing an interestin­g thought about the CVS Classic and how it’s endured for nearly two decades. That holds especially true when comparing it to the shelf life of the Oregon-based Fred Meyer Challenge, a charity golf tournament that ran from 1986-2002 and was organized by longtime CVS participan­t Peter Jacobson.

“Bill (Haas) was saying that his event was small potatoes compared to what’s going on in Rhode Island every year,” Andrade said.

The CVS Classic has donated more than $20 million to area non-profits in its first 18 years. In addition to the new golf format, this year’s other notable feature is a two-day festival on June 15-16 that’s geared towards food enthusiast­s. It’s called Crave R.I. and will feature 80 area restaurant­s and 100 beer and wine vendors proudly showing off their products on the floor of The Dunk.

Also of note, the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics will all be represente­d at the freeof-charge Pepsi Celebrity Pro-Am, set for Sunday, June 18 at Rhode Island Country Club. Recently appointed Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will be among the celebritie­s on hand.

 ?? File photo ?? CVS Health Charity Classic organizers Brad Faxon (left) and Billy Andrade (right) have turned the event at Rhode Island Country Club into a one-day shootout.
File photo CVS Health Charity Classic organizers Brad Faxon (left) and Billy Andrade (right) have turned the event at Rhode Island Country Club into a one-day shootout.

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