The Thompson tees it up, battling
27th annual golf tournament for cancer
research starts Thursday
It’s late August and the evenings are
growing shorter, which means it’s time in Sun Valley for the small miracle story
called the Danny Thompson Memorial golf tournament.
Year by year, dollar by dollar, the
Thompson has chipped away at the ravages to personal health and family life
caused by leukemia. The gathering is named for Thompson, a Minnesota Twins and
Texas Rangers infielder who died of leukemia in 1976 at 29.
The 27th annual Thompson Memorial, played
exclusively at Sun Valley since its founding in 1977, returns Wednesday through
Saturday, Aug. 20-23 on the Sun Valley and Elkhorn championship golf courses.
Last year’s Thompson take for cancer
research was $600,000 including a record-setting $225,000 at the tournament’s
live and silent auction.
And tournament director Georgie Fenton is
optimistic that the 2003 Thompson tournament will reach or exceed $600,000 in
In 26 years, the Thompson has raised $6.1
million for cancer research, split between University of Minnesota Leukemia
Research Foundation ($3.33 million) and St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor
Institute of Boise ($2.98 million).
This year Fenton is expecting about 250
golfers for the four-day meet. A highlight will be the 10th annual Thompson
Memorial live and silent auction with auctioneer Marjoe Gortner Friday, Aug. 22
at River Run Lodge.
Among this year’s items are a trip to
Paris, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a fly fishing trip to Ireland, a 700 ATV, a
Mediterranean cruise, NASTAR tickets, art work, jewelry and an autographed pin
flag from the 2002 Ryder Cup.
Generous donors will be giving up
substantial sums of money because they want to indirectly help people like
Dayshia Maire Elsworth of Boise, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia
(AML) just two weeks shy of her fourth birthday.
Dayshia is this year’s Thompson
"Survivor’s Story." Her battle with the disease at Mountain States Tumor
Institute in Boise, and her treatment to the point where Dayshia is now in full
remission, will touch all those attending Friday’s auction dinner.
All the big fund-raising numbers and loyal
support represent quite an accomplishment for a late-August celebrity clambake
started in 1977 by Idaho legislator Ralph Harding and baseball slugger Harmon
The celebrity list is dotted with
athletes, legislators and entertainers.
It starts with two of the Thompson
Memorial’s most loyal supporters over the years—two men who happen to be two of
Utah’s most distinguished athletes and coaches. They are Arnie Ferrin and Ladell
Ogden’s Arnie Ferrin, former University of
Utah athletic director, was a four-time basketball All-American for the Utes
As a freshman, Ferrin (13.2 ppg) won the
Most Outstanding Player award in Utah’s 42-40 (OT) victory over Dartmouth in the
1944 NCAA championship game before 15,000 fans at Madison Square Garden. Ferrin
scored 22 of Utah’s 42 points. He played three seasons for the NBA’s Minneapolis
Lakers from 1949-51, helping the Lakers to two NBA titles. Ferrin went back to
school and earned his college degree from Utah in 1966.
Andersen, 75, was men’s basketball coach
at Utah State University and Brigham Young University.
The 2003 Thompson Memorial sports
celebrity list includes:
· From baseball: Brooks Robinson and Paul
· From football: Ed Marinaro, Jerry
Kramer and Joe Washington. From basketball: Jack Marin. From hockey: Rod
· From ESPN: John Barrett (fly fishing),
Jimmy Dykes (basketball commentator) and Chris Berman ("The Berminator"). From
the entertainment world: Actor/comedians Arte Johnson and Leslie Nielsen.
Celebrity, pol details
Among this year’s celebrities:
Rod Gilbert, 62, from Montreal, is the
compact, 5-9, 175-pound right-hand shot who played his entire 18-year career
with the New York Rangers from 1960-77. The eight-time NHL All-Star was inducted
into the NHL Hall of Fame in 1982.
Although he never won a Stanley Cup,
Gilbert was a Big Apple favorite while scoring 406 goals and 1,021 points in
1,065 Ranger games, topped by 43 goals and 97 points in 1972.
One of the best golfers and putters in the
Thompson field is Duke basketball All-American Jack Marin, one of the founding
fathers of the Celebrity Players Golf Tour.
One-handicapper Marin was a 6-6 forward
who graduated from Duke in 1966 and was a 15.0 ppg pro scorer. Marin, who also
played for Buffalo and Chicago, was traded by Baltimore to Houston for Elvin
Hayes in 1972. He was a two-time NBA All-Star in a career that lasted from
Brooks Robinson of Little Rock, the "Human
Vacuum Cleaner," is familiar to any baseball fan with a healthy respect for
diamond defense. The all-time greatest third baseman was named to the Hall of
Fame in 1983 after a matchless 23-year career with the Baltimore Orioles.
Robinson, 66, is a 6-1, 190-pounder whose
numerous major league fielding records include a .971 fielding average, best
ever for a third sacker. He batted .267 with 2,848 hits in 2,896 games from
1955-77, all with the Baltimore Orioles, which was a major league record.
The 18-time All-Star won the Golden Glove
each year from 1960-75 and was baseball's Most Valuable Player in 1964 with
career-best .317 with 28 homers and 118 RBI. He starred on the four-time AL
pennant-winning Oriole teams that also won World Series championships in 1966
and 1970, losing only one game.
Paul Hartzell, a big league pitcher, is
also returning to the Thompson.
Hartzell, 50, a 6-5, 200-pound
right-hander from Pennsylvania, started his big league career with the
California Angels in 1976 and played on four different teams through 1984. Now a
corporate executive, Hartzell is an important member of the Thompson Memorial
board of directors.
Besides the athletes, there is a long list of
politicians on board:
They include Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.);
Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (R-Ky.); Rep. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.); Rep. John Boehner
(R-Ohio); Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.); Rep. Butch Otter (R-Id.); Sen. Mike Crapo
(R-Id.) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Id.).
Others are Rep. Joe Baca (D-Ca.); Rep.
Phil Crane (R-Ill.); Rep. Chris John (D-La.); Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.); Rep.
Charles Stenholm (D-Tx.); Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.); Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.);
and Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.).
U.S. Bank remains the tournament's
"Platinum" sponsor and is joined this year at that level by Thrivent Financial
for Lutherans and Corbett Industries. The only sponsor at the "Gold" level is
"Silver" sponsors are Anheuser-Busch,
Regence Blue Shield of Idaho, Simplot, Conoco Phillps and Washington Group
International. The "Premier" sponsors are Ceridian, Delta Airlines, Merrill
Corp. and Visa.
Spectators are invited to watch and, when
appropriate, ask for autographs. Check the pairing sheets at the Sun Valley and
Elkhorn golf pro shops to get an idea of where your favorite golfer is playing.
Tournament format is four-man two-best
ball over two days.
Here is the tournament schedule.
- Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 20-21:
Registration from 8-6 on the Sun Valley Lodge Terrace. Practice rounds all day
on the Elkhorn and Sun Valley golf courses.
- Thursday, Aug. 21: Welcome
western barbecue at 6:30 p.m. on the Trail Creek Cabin grounds. Tournament
pairings distributed there.
- Friday, Aug. 22: First 18-hole
round of the Thompson Memorial, an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start at Sun Valley and
Elkhorn. Cocktails and auction dinner 6 p.m. at River Run Lodge.
- Saturday, Aug. 23: Final 18-hole
round of the Thompson Memorial, an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start. Awards reception
at 5:30 p.m. in a tent on Hole 9A of the Sun Valley Golf Course.