More than six decades of sporting excitement and dedicated service to the Connecticut community has earned the Travelers Championship selection as recipient of the 2019 President’s Award from the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance.
The PGA Tour tournament, which began as the Insurance City Open in 1952, will be honored at the 78th annual Gold Key Dinner on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
Since its inception, the event has generated more than $40 million for Connecticut charities. More than $16.7 million has been donated since Travelers assumed title sponsorship of the tournament in 2007, with a record $2 million being distributed to more than 150 charities in 2018.
Memorable charity donations include Bob Murphy contributing his entire $20,000 winner’s check to the Greater Hartford Jaycees in 1970, and three-time champion Bubba Watson giving $200,000 to the Hole In the Wall Gang Camp this past June.
On the course, some of the most memorable moments in the state’s sports history have taken place. Consider these from this century alone: Jordan Spieth holing out from a bunker by the 18th green to win a playoff in 2017; Jim Furyk’s PGA Tour-record 58 in the final round in 2016; Watson winning his first TOUR event in Cromwell in 2010 and tearfully dedicating the win to his father, who was battling cancer; J.J. Henry becoming the first Connecticut golfer to win the event in 2006; and Phil Mickelson becoming the tournament’s only defending champion to repeat his victory in 2002.
Past champions include such legendary figures as Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Ken Venturi, Lee Trevino, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins, Nick Price and Greg Norman.
The Travelers Championship regularly attracts some of the largest crowds on the PGA Tour, with hundreds of thousands of spectators making the yearly pilgrimage to the TPC River Highlands In Cromwell.
Gold Key Award recipients for 2019 are former college and pro basketball standouts John Bagley and Chris Smith, longtime NFL coach and Super Bowl champion Chris Palmer, St. Thomas More basketball coach Jere Quinn and ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen.
The Gold Key Dinner was inaugurated in 1940, with baseball legend Connie Mack and golf superstar Bobby Jones among the initial recipients. The roster of honorees since then reads like a Who’s Who of Connecticut sports – Joe Cronin, Julius Boros, Willie Pep, Andy Robustelli, Lindy Remigino, Floyd Little, Joan Joyce, Carmen Cozza, Otto Graham, Calvin Murphy, Joe Morrone, Gordie Howe, Bill Rodgers, Tony DiCicco, Geno Auriemma, Rebecca Lobo, Brian Leetch, Kristine Lilly, Marlon Starling and Dwight Freeney are just a few of the past Gold Key winners. A complete list is available at www.ctsportswriters.com.
Tickets to the Gold Key Dinner are $75 apiece, and may be reserved by contacting CSWA President Tim Jensen of Patch Media Corp. at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-394-5091, or Vice President Rich Gregory of the Danbury News-Times at email@example.com or 203-705-8625.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Bo Kolinsky Journalism Scholarship, named after a longtime Hartford Courant sportswriter and past CSWA president who died unexpectedly in 2003.
For more information, please contact Contact: Tim Jensen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-394-5091
Photo caption: Bubba Watson, left, gets the championship trophy at the Travelers Championship. Credit: Tim Jensen, Connecticut Patch Media