Harold Muckleroy, tournament chairman for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, posed for photographs Tuesday with representatives from charitable organizations that benefitted from the May event’s record-setting $6.6 million in donations.
Muckleroy was still smiling after the last of 81 checks had been distributed to local charities. Considering the difficult economic conditions, Muckleroy said it was “fantastic” to be able to set a tournament record for charitable donations in 2008, especially one that topped last year’s total ($4.2 million) by 57 percent.
The figure placed Colonial among the top 5 events on the 2008 PGA Tour in terms of charitable donations, an achievement that drew kudos from Fort Worth mayor Mike Moncrief.
Moncrief said the “generous hearts” of tournament officials will “go a long way toward improving the quality of life” for many Tarrant County residents.
“That’s a lot of money for charities … especially when we’re in difficult economic times,” Moncrief said.
The driving force behind the increased payout was a boost in Colonial’s Birdies For Charity program, which raised $5.3 million in May after generating $1.97 million in 2007.
Muckleroy said a Nov. 18 visit to the club by Tiger Woods, who took part in a series of Nike Golf commercials filmed at Colonial, left tournament officials “more optimistic than we’ve been in a while” about luring the world’s top-ranked golfer back to Fort Worth as a competitor.
Woods’ only appearance at Colonial came in 1997. Woods’ 2009 playing schedule remains clouded because he underwent reconstructive knee surgery in June, a procedure that often takes a year of rehabilitation before an athlete is cleared by doctors to return to competition.
Colonial’s 2009 dates are May 25-31. Muckleroy downplayed the likelihood of a 2009 appearance unless Woods heals quickly and seeks to add spring events to his schedule. But he said Colonial’s long-term chances of enticing Woods back to Fort Worth could be enhanced by Woods’ relationship with Kel Devlin, a Colonial member who is Nike Golf’s global sports marketing director.
_ Jimmy Burch