With apologies to Charles Dickens and Jamie Farr, there is no far, Farr better thing for Toledo than the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger. Here are highlights.
For the thousands lining the fairways and greens of Highland Meadows last week for the LPGA Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger it s all about the players and the great golf.
Talk to anyone spectators, organizers, and volunteers and they can t stop raving about how nice, how courteous, and how professional the golfers are when they meet spectators. Steven Mickus of Mercy Health Partners and the event s general chairman, played with Michelle Wie at the pro-am and said the teen phenom was wonderful.
She gave myself and other golfers on the course some insight on how professional golfers react to conditions on the course, he said.
On Friday, Toledoan Jim Swy walked around Highland Meadows with a giant golf ball he got when the Special Tee golf store went out of business, asking the pros to sign it so he could auction it off for charity.
For four years, he said, he s brought something to the course and collected autographs that he then auctions off to help children s charities, and each year he s received more than enough signatures. He was there with buddy Jerry McCree of Toledo, who has been to the Farr the last six years. Where else can you go and drink cold beers and see beautiful girls play golf? he asked.
The 2,100 guests at the Merrill Lynch Gala Dinner Tuesday night at SeaGate Convention Centre, the glamorous part of a week of events surrounding the classic, had good reasons to be pumped up about the LPGA golf tournament at Highland Meadows.
But by the end of the night, they also had lots of reasons to be pumped up about the area. Tourney namesake, actor Mr. Farr, told the crowd he was proud of his hometown s assets. Toledo really is a cross-section of the world, he said.
Mr. Mickus gave a pep talk about the region s amenities, including the Mud Hens, the downtown arena that will be the home of the Toledo Walleye Hockey Club, and the Toledo Museum of Art and the Glass Pavilion. And, he said, why stop there before he gave an enthusiastic nod to the Toledo Zoo and its planned Nature s Neighborhood children s area. Judging by the applause, the audience agreed with Mr. Mickus. And so did Mr. Farr, who quipped that Toledo sounded so wonderful, he might just move back.
Attendees also heard from celebrity guests Chuck Ealey, the University of Toledo quarterback who led his team to 35 consecutive wins from 1969 to 1971, and songwriter Paul Williams, winner of Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe awards. The modest Mr. Williams said, We are in fact artists. I met Jamie on the Gong Show. He also complimented Toledo, saying, Now that I ve been here and seen the heart of some of the people, I know where [the expression] Holy Toledo comes from.
Auctions brought in hefty bids: Five nights at a Ritz-Carlton resort anywhere in the continential United States, plus airfare, went for $7,000, and four tickets to a game at Yankee Stadium against either the Los Angeles Angels, the Kansas City Royals, or the Boston Red Sox, plus a $200 gas card, sold for $12,000.
When Hootie & the Blowfish cranked it up for some hit songs, such as Let Her Cry, Time, and A Fine Line, many rushed for the dance floor. Lead singer and avid golf fan Darius Rucker said, We got to meet Nancy Lopez and I m still freakin out about that.
Among Gala guests were a number of pros, including such fan favorites as Se Ri Pak and Ms. Lopez, plus Diane Larson, the mistress of ceremonies, and Jerry Anderson, auctioneer.
Also seen were Alan Brass, Bob and Kathie Maxwell, Chuck Mira, Jeannie Hylant, Tom McHugh, Mike and Gloria Sheline, Pat Nowak and husband Steve Roberts, Carlton and Karen Fraker, Farr events chairman Laura Draheim, Mike and Kelly Hart, Farr volunteer chief Scott Saunders, and Jim Murray, hobnobbing with what looked like a political convention, including former Toledo Mayor Donna Owens, councilman Betty Shultz, and former state representative Lynn Olman. Also there were Fulton County Judge James Barber and his wife, Sandra; Harriet and David Greenburg, John and Michelle Hills, and Alex and Mary Due.
A hard midmorning rain held up Saturday s competition for about 45 minutes and the threat of afternoon showers kept a lot of fans away (it didn t help attendance that charismatic golfer Natalie Gulbis failed to make the cut). But the sky turned blue and the sun came out and faithful fans were rewarded with plenty of good seats and open views of the action.
Aside from host Mr. Farr, no other celebrity sightings that day not even rumors of a possible appearance by hometown girl Katie Holmes or hubby Tom or baby Suri.
Among the notables there were Eric Hillenbrand, owner of 20 North Gallery; Jerry Chabler, commissioner of the Ohio State Racing Commission, and former Sylvania mayor Jim Seney.
One of the golfers who attracted a sizable crowd was Momoko Ueda of Kumamoto, Japan. The petite, 22-year-old LPGA rookie was the top money winner in Japan last year and had dozens of Japanese and Japanese-American fans following her every move.
Momoko is my favorite golfer, said Kiyoshi Umahara, who is from Japan but moved to Ann Arbor just a month ago. She is a big star in Japan.
He made his first trip to a U.S. golf tournament with fellow Japanese-Americans Mitsu Nakamura and Toshiki Kameyama, all now in Ann Arbor.
Farr volunteer Tom Oswald said the media room was expanded for the eight Japanese journalists following Ms. Ueda (pronounced Oo-eh-da). Nao Fukuda, Ms. Ueda s manager, said many Japanese were watching live despite the 13-hour time difference.
Ko Nishi of Columbus, a Tokyo native, said he doesn t follow golf but came just to see Ms. Ueda in person. If you get to interview her, will you introduce her to me? he asked a reporter.
After shooting a round of 67, 4 under par on Saturday, Ms. Ueda, who does not speak English, met with Japanese media and signed autographs.
Contact Sue Brickey at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6121.