The annual CVS Caremark Charity Classic -- one of the golfing highlights each summer in Barrington and a benefactor of charities all over New England – brings more than top golfers to the Rhode Island Country Club again in June.
“There’s got to be some economic impact to the town, and it puts Rhode Island Country Club on the map,” said well-known Barrington pro Brad Faxon, a co-host along with Bristol’s Billy Andrade.
They revealed a few of the golfers who will compete this year at a mid-morning news conference at the country club.
Of course, Faxon said, “at the end of the day, we’re raising one million three or one million four for charity, with $100,000 going to Barrington.”
Readying for the 14th tournament, Faxon said, he may have been most proud the first year of the tournament when he walked up the fairways with two of the best golfers of all time, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
“Growing up here as a caddie and going in the locker room and shining shoes,” he said, it left quite a memory for him.
Faxon also talked the impact of the volunteers, who make every PGA event possible. Each event has 700 to 1,000 volunteers.
“There is no way you can do that without them,” he said. “Economically, if you had to pay them it wouldn’t work. Many take off working days. A lot of the charities who benefit from the tournament have people who give time. It’s part of the whole package that goes together to run the event.”
Among the golfers who will compete for the first time this year, they said, are Yani Tseng, the LPGA’s #1-ranked player; 17-year-old pro Lexi Thompson, who qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at age 12; Lorena Ochoa, a former top-ranked pro, and Annika Sorenstam, who spoke to the gathering via a video stream from Florida. Perennial favorite Julie Inkster also returns again, they said.
Joining them from the PGA Champions Tour will be Mark Calcavecchia, Corey Pavin and Peter Jacobsen, whose firm manages the event.
Faxon and Andrade also said the tourney format will be altered this year to introduce fresh ideas. Tuesday’s play will be a “scramble” format with players have a chance to hit two balls and play the best one, which should make for some very low scores.
“A bogie could be pretty bad,” said Andrade of the second-day format.
The tournament runs June 17-19, with the Pepsi Pro-Am giving amateur golfers a change to play with some of the pros on the first day. The Classic itself runs two days, June 18-19.
More than $15 million has been raised for more than 500 charities since the tourney's inception, according to CVS Caremark.