MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Thursday was the opening round of the inaugural Concession Cup Golf Tournament. The international event stems from one of the most gracious athletic gestures ever.
The first round battle was a battle of 9 teams from the U.S. against 9 top amateur teams from a combination of Ireland and Great Britain; a foursome set-up in the match play format.
These international competitions can get the blood pumping, says former Ryder Cup member Andy Bean. "When you get Great Britain and Ireland playing against the United States, there is so much history there. The competition, and just the fighting out for one point. That is the great thing about amateur golf and about match play."
This first-ever Concession Cup will be played this year on U.S. soil, then next year in Great Britain. It is not a USGA-sanctioned event, but the organization did have a high-ranking rep there to check out the action
“Well, we're here to show support for the club, the concept and the family that put it together. It is a great celebration of amateur golf," says USGA vice-president Thomas J. O’Toole, Jr.
The Concession Cup is a 3-day event with 4-ball matches Friday and ends with singles matches Saturday.
Jack Nicklaus, who conceded a 2-foot putt to Tony Jacklin in the 1969 Ryder Cup, are the honorary team captains. That concession is arguably the most noble gesture in the history of international golf.
“The gesture of sportsmanship at the 1969 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale precipitates all of this: the club, the concept of the match, all of this. It perpetuates amateur golf," says O’Toole.
After Day 1, the teams are all square with each winning 4 matches, and a 9th match was halved.
The matches are open to the public, and better yet, free of charge for some great international amateur competition, and maybe the beginning of something enduring.
"When you got two guys like that and their names are at the head of the list, it can only be successful," says Bean.