Palm Beach Gardens, FL - Not even 50 mile-per-hour winds and torrential rains that washed out play on Saturday and forced a Monday finish could keep the 2015 Honda Classic from setting another record for charitable giving.
The Honda is awarding $2.555 million in charitable contributions during Honda Classic Cares Week this week, about $27,000 more than the previous record of $2.528 million established in 2014.
That makes it the ninth straight year that the tournament has elevated the impact it makes on South Florida children's charities. And this time it was accomplished despite the major expense of cleaning the golf course after Saturday's storms and opening for an extra day on Monday when admission was free and Padraig Harrington defeated upstart Daniel Berger in a playoff.
"We couldn't be more thrilled that we were able to sustain a pattern of growth despite all of the challenges that we encountered this year," Honda Classic Executive Director Kenneth R. Kennerly said. "It was pretty tough on Saturday when so much of our infrastructure was blown around by the winds and the course was drenched.
"But PGA National did a great job getting the course ready for play on Sunday and Monday and the fans did their part by drying off and coming back. The support we continue to receive from our sponsors and partners is sensational. That's why The Honda Classic is able to remain one of the elite events on the PGA TOUR and why we are able to make such a significant impact in our community."
The Honda is awarding grants and other contributions to 44 different local charitable organizations and impacting the lives of approximately 15,000 children. The Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation is once again the primary beneficiary.
The initiatives evolving from that giving range from contributing to the state-of-the-art Els Center for Excellence for autistic children in Jupiter to creating the Honda Classic Cottage for kids who have aged out of foster care at the Village of Hope campus in Lake Park. The Honda Classic sponsors a new playroom and fitness center that is part of the Quantum House expansion, helps purchase classroom equipment at The ARC of Palm Beach County for kids with developmental disabilities and supports educational opportunities for low-income students through the Tiger Woods Foundation.
An additional 90 charities received proceeds from the American Honda Birdies for Children program, where fans donate for the chance to guess the number of birdies in the tournament. American Honda awards a new Honda Civic to the winner. Nineteen individuals guessed the proper birdie total of 1168 in 2015 and the car will be awarded by drawing at a reception for charity partners on Thursday July 23.
"The support of American Honda and the golf and business communities of Palm Beach and Martin County have enabled us to serve children from approximately one of every 20 families in our area. We're especially proud of Ken Kennerly and his team in managing difficult weather during our tournament," said Joe Steranka, President of Children's Healthcare Charity, Inc. "Palm Beach County is known as the golf capital of the world and has a history of giving back. Our Board, led by Barbara and Gary Nicklaus, is dedicated to continuing the leading role of combining golf and philanthropy in our community through Honda Classic Cares."
When The Honda Classic moved to PGA National Resort & Spa in 2007, it awarded $430,000 to charity. By 2010, it had eclipsed the $1 million mark ($1,018,961) and it broke through the $2 million barrier in 2013 with $2.13 million in contributions.
The growth is a testament to American Honda's 34 years as the longest-standing title sponsor on the PGA TOUR as well as partnerships with PGA National Resort & Spa, PGA of America, Palm Beach County, the City of Palm Beach Gardens and the PGA TOUR along with the support from major local partners such as Tire Kingdom, United Technologies and FPL. Player, corporate and spectator support has led to increased ticket sales, parking revenues, concessions and sponsorships.
"We have always aimed to grow an event that could raise millions of dollars for our community and continue to make us all proud," Kennerly said. "We are going into year 10 now and this community has really embraced us and put a stamp of approval on it.
"It's about family, it's about philanthropy and it's about creating excitement. Through Honda Classic Cares week and all that we do, we are connecting with the community. The Honda Classic cares about people and the futures of the children in our community."
The 2016 Honda Classic will be played February 22-28, 2016 with Harrington defending his title.
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