DiMarco and Perez enter as sponsor’s exemptions; NBA Hall of Famer Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving, Rays players Carlos Pena and James Shields, and former World Series champions A.J. Pierzynski and Aaron Rowand headline celebrity pro-am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Three-time PGA TOUR winner and Orlando resident Chris DiMarco and Golf Channel’s Big Break Disney Golf winner Mike Perez received sponsor’s exemptions for the 40th Children’s Miracle Network Classic Nov. 11-14 at Walt Disney World Resort, where they will compete alongside a host of celebrity pro-am golfers, such as Julius “Dr. J’ Erving, Carlos Pena and A.J. Pierzynski.
DiMarco, who won the 2000 SEI Pennsylvania Classic, the 2001 Buick Challenge and the 2002 Phoenix Open, has competed on the U.S. Ryder Cup team (2004 and 2006) and the Presidents Cup (2003 and 2005). He has earned $400,040 on the tour this year and $21,235,123 for his career, as well as 61 career Top 10 finishes.
DiMarco has played at Disney 13 times in his career beginning in 1994, with his best result a runner-up finish to Bob Burns in 2002. Last year, he tied for 15th place.
Perez earned his sponsor’s exemption after winning the Golf Channel’s Big Break Disney Golf earlier this year at the Palm and Magnolia courses at Disney. In the Disney Classic, Perez will compete against his brother, Pat Perez, ranked 103rdon the money list.
“The DiMarco family has long been a part of the Disney Classic, dating back to Chris’s father, Rich, who played in the Pro-Am, and continues to this day with Chris and his kids participating in the traditional father-child event here at Disney,” said tournament chairman Kevin Weickel. “Mike Perez obviously knows our course well after winning Big Break Disney Golf, and we look forward to seeing his dream come true of playing in a PGA TOUR event here at Disney.”
With DiMarco and Perez in the field, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic has two remaining sponsor’s exemptions to extend to players who otherwise wouldn’t qualify for the field of 128 players that will tee off in the PGA TOUR Fall Series finale. The final two spots will be announced in the next couple weeks.
The two-day pro-am field, which will compete the Thursday and Friday of tournament week, is also nearly filled, headlined by Erving, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, San Francisco Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand and Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Pena and pitcher James Shields.
Defending champion Stephen Ames, who also won the tournament in 2007, is among an impressive group of former winners, which includes Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Jack Nicklaus, Payne Stewart and Raymond Floyd. Celebrating its 40th year, the event was initially held as the Walt Disney World Open Invitational shortly after the resort opened in 1971. This year’s tournament will again be televised live each day on the Golf Channel.
Once again, guests also will have the opportunity to experience the Wine & Dine Walk, throughout the back nine of Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course. Patterned after the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, five specialty locations will offer culinary pairings of tapas-sized appetizers, entrees, desserts and wines especially for the event.
Tickets for individual rounds ($10), badges for Classic week ($20) and a new one-day Wine & Dine ticket ($45) are available at www.ChildrensMiracleNetworkClassic.com or through www.ticketmaster.com. The new Wine & Dine ticket is good for five entrees, one at each location, and one beverage, along the back nine of the Magnolia Golf Course. Net proceeds go to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, including the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, and Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville.