BOSTON, Mass – For the past 69 years the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund has set high expectations and fundraising goals, and each year they exceed expectations, so it’s no surprise that the 2019 Annual Banquet, honoring Johnny Miller for his “Lifelong Contributions to Golf,” broke a few records.
On April 11, the Sheraton Boston Hotel hosted over 1,200 supporters who opened up their wallets to the tune of $300 each. Combined with a Silent Auction over $1 million was generated that will be used to provide financial assistance to nearly 500 kids each year to help them achieve their dream of a college education. Last year the Ouimet Fund awarded $2.2 million to need-based students.
Hall of Famer Johnny Miller was the guest speaker and honored with the 22nd Francis Ouimet Award for Lifelong Contributions to Golf at the 69th Annual Banquet. The Banquet, which has become the largest annual golf dinner in America, continues to be sponsored through generous donations by The Connolly Group, a division of Morgan Stanley.
“We were thrilled to have Johnny Miller as our 2019 honoree and to have Dan Hicks of NBC conduct a “fireside chat” with Johnny,” said Executive Director Bob Donovan. “They worked together for many years in the NBC Golf broadcast booth. We were also delighted to have Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston serve as Master of Ceremonies. Johnny Miller continued the tradition of tremendous Ouimet honorees. He had a superb Hall of Fame record with 25 PGA Tour victories including a legendary final round U.S. Open record 63 in winning the 1973 US Open.”
The Francis Ouimet Award for Lifelong Contributions to Golf became part of the Ouimet Annual Banquet when the late Arnold Palmer was honored in 1997. Subsequent honorees have been Gene Sarazen, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Ken Venturi & Eddie Lowery, Former President George H.W. Bush, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Nancy Lopez, Greg Norman, Peter Jacobsen, Jack & Barbara Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Annika Sorenstam, Mark O’Meara, Mr. Ouimet himself in 2013, the Centennial of his historic U.S. Open victory, Brad Faxon, Tom Lehman, Nick Price, Jim Furyk and now Johnny Miller.
“I am happy to be here in Boston to accept this prestigious Ouimet Fund Award,” said Miller before the overflow crowd in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Boston Hotel. “I had heard about the program and promised to attend after my broadcast career ended, so this is a really special night.”
Johnny Miller had a spectacular career as a PGA Tour player with 25 wins, including the 1973 U.S. Open and The British Open at Royal Birkdale in 1976. The U.S. Open victory is considered one of the greatest moments in golf history. He stormed from behind in the final round, hitting all 18 greens at treacherous Oakmont Country Club, and torched the field with an Open record 63. It was part of a dominant stretch in the mid-seventies, with eight wins in 1974, and seven more over the next two seasons.
Miller collected nine of his victories in the desert, including the Bob Hope in Palm Springs, as well as Phoenix and Tucson. In 1975, his margin of victory in Phoenix was 14 shots, and in Tucson 9 shots, earning him the nickname ‘The Desert Fox.”
Over the last 25 years, Johnny Miller became a legendary broadcaster for NBC, known for his insightful and candid commentary. He pulled no punches and occasionally sharply criticized and rankled players, becoming known as the announcer that would tell it like it is. Over the years, he has covered some of the most important golf tournaments in history including U.S. Opens and Ryder Cups.
Today, Johnny Miller, and his wife Linda, make their home in Napa, California and Utah. They have six children and 22 grandchildren. He has designed or re-designed 34 golf courses and has his own foundation, the Johnny Miller “CHAMP” Foundation.
Tom Riordan, Anna Hurley Honored
Thomas Riordan, a Ouimet alumnus and a long-time Ouimet Board member, was honored with the Richard F. Connolly Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Riordan is principal of The Riordan group, a manufacturer’s representative firm specializing in clothing and other products. He had an outstanding amateur golf career with a strong competitive record. He then went on to become Caddie Master and then head professional at New Seabury Country Club before going into the retail industry.
Throughout his career, Tom has always “given back to golf” and to the Ouimet Fund. Tom’s contributions to The Fund have impacted thousands of scholars and come in many forms. Tom has been a member of the Ouimet Board since 2001 and been very involved on the Banquet Committee and with Endowed Scholarship Programs. Riordan’s background in golf, knowledge of Ouimet programs and commitment to helping young people working in the game have made him a tremendous asset to the Ouimet organization and worthy recipient of the Richard F. Connolly Distinguished Service Award.
Anna Hurley, who has worked as a caddie or in the cart barn for five years at The Ridge Club and is a junior at St. Michael’s College, was Student Speaker. She is from Sandwich, MA. Anna gave an inspiring talk about overcoming severe Epilepsy to go on to captain three sports in high school. She is the starting field hockey goalie at St. Michael’s and involved in numerous charitable efforts.
The 2019 Ouimet Fund Banquet was another memorable night. We’ve witnessed this every year, and the truth is, it just keeps on getting better!