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BMW Championship exhibition raises $45,000 for Evans Scholars Foundation

(photo courtesy of Western Golf Association)

July 24, 2014

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Zach Johnson, winner of the 2013 BMW Championship, and Denver Broncos legend John Elway went head-to-head in a 9-hole showdown on Tuesday at Cherry Hills Country Club, host of the upcoming 2014 BMW Championship. Johnson teamed with former NFL All-Pro John Lynch to compete in a shootout against Elway and former PGA TOUR player and Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer, raising $45,000 for the Evans Scholars Foundation.

The charity, the nation’s largest caddie scholarship program, provides full housing and tuition scholarships to deserving golf caddies across the country.

“This exhibition provides crucial support to the Evans Scholars Foundation and helps to build excitement for the upcoming BMW Championship,” said Vince Pellegrino, senior vice president of tournaments, Western Golf Association. “We appreciate the support and participation of those who came out today, and we look forward to welcoming the top 70 PGA TOUR professionals – Zach Johnson among them – to Cherry Hills Country Club in September.”

Hosted by the Western Golf Association, the BMW Championship exhibition at Cherry Hills Country Club featured the players in a Scotch Foursome alternate shot format as teams competed for up to $5,000 per hole. The winning team of John Elway and Charlie Rymer earned $30,000 in prize money for the Evans Scholars Foundation, the sole charity of the BMW Championship, while Zach Johnson and John Lynch earned $15,000. Golf Channel's Matt Ginella emceed the match for a crowd of 200 guests, Cherry Hills Country Club members, corporate partners and media. For those in attendance, the event provided a glimpse of how the William S. Flynn-designed golf course will challenge the top 70 players in the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs standings at the BMW Championship, to be contested Sept. 4-7.

“I've been looking forward to playing this course,” said Zach Johnson, who won the 2013 BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois. “There's a lot of history here at Cherry Hills, and it's incredible to walk in the footsteps of some of golf's greats.”

Cherry Hills Country Club is a strong supporter of the Evans Scholars Foundation, with six current scholars in its caddie program and 38 Evans Scholars Alumni. Tournament Chairman George Solich, who also is an Evans Alum, said the exhibition provided an early opportunity to showcase the course.

“As you’ll see today, the club is ready for the national spotlight,” said Solich. “We couldn’t be more excited to have the top players in the world coming to this time tested, historic golf course.”

Five Evans Scholars also participated in the exhibition, including:

  • Mark Abtahi, from Niles, Ill., caddied for Zach Johnson. He caddied at Park Ridge CountryClub and is a sophomore at the University of Illinois studying civil engineering. He was the recipient of the 2012 BMW Hole-in-One Scholarship, a full four-year tuition and housing grant awarded by BMW in recognition of Steve Stricker’s Hole-in-One at the 2012 BMW Championship.
  • Grant Cassell, from Centennial, Colo., caddied for John Elway. He caddied at Cherry Hills Country Club and is a junior at the University of Colorado studying biochemistry. Grant is the president of the University of Colorado Eisenhower Chapter of Evans Scholars.

  • Melyzjah Smith, from Aurora, Colo., caddied for John Lynch. She caddied at CommonGround golf course and is a sophomore at the University of Colorado studying architectural engineering. She was the recipient of the 2013 BMW Hole-in-One Scholarship, a full four-year tuition and housing grant awarded by BMW in recognition of Hunter Mahan’s hole-in-one at the 2013 BMW Championship.

  • Haelena Schwemmer, from O'Fallon, Mo., caddied for Charlie Rymer. She caddied at Persimmon Woods Golf Club and is a senior at the University of Missouri studying mechanical engineering. She was the recipient of the 2010 BMW Hole-in-One Scholarship, a full four-year tuition and housing grant awarded by BMW in recognition of Sean O’Hair’s hole-in-one at the 2010 BMW Championship.

  • Joe Putnik, from Golden, Colo., was the standard bearer for the exhibition. He recently graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in finance. He caddied at Lakewood Country Club.

As the sole charity of the BMW Championship, the Evans Scholars Foundation is recognized as a favorite charity among golfers and has provided full housing and tuition scholarships for highly qualified men and women caddies since 1930. Since 2007, the BMW Championship has raised over $16 million for the Evans Scholars Foundation. In Colorado, there are over 400 alumni from the Evans Scholars program, which began sending caddies to the University of Colorado in 1961.

The penultimate event in the PGA TOUR's FedExCup Playoffs, the 70 qualifiers for the BMW Championship will compete for an $8 million purse.

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