TAMPA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC (Coke Florida) and the United Golfers Association (UGA) closed Black History Month 2022 by making history with the inaugural Jim Thorpe Invitational Golf Tournament (JTI) at the renowned Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate in Orlando, Florida.
The three-day event named for legendary PGA Champion Jim Thorpe and hosted by UGA with Coke Florida as the Presenting Sponsor closed on Sunday, February 27th after fielding more than 65 Elite Junior Golfers and an equal number of professional players. This first ever event included a playoff to determine the winner.
Jim Thorpe, 19-time PGA Champion, shared “I am beyond excited and honestly inspired to see more than 200 juniors, parents, professional golfers, and supporters all here to celebrate me and compete in this inaugural event.” He spoke during Sunday’s Award presentation recognizing golfers from as far away as Nigeria and as young as eight years old who had the opportunity to play in a tournament with other players that looked like them. Mr. Thorpe’s reputation and commitment to the game drew professional players such as Joseph Stills and Willie Mack, III, Gabriel Lench, and Zach Juhasz. Stills won the inaugural event after a playoff on hole #1 against Mack for his first professional win. Other professionals participating included Kamaiu Johnson, Cameron Riley, JP Thornton, and Ryan Alford.
UGA served as the tournament host and Tarek “Ty” DeLavallade, Executive Director for the organization shared in Mr. Thorpe’s excitement saying, “This has been great. It has been a dream come true to be able to honor Jim Thorpe and his contributions in the golf industry and to bring these amazing juniors and professional golfers together. Many of these young people are just getting a chance to play since the pandemic, and for their first event to be the inaugural Jim Thorpe Invitational was really history in the making.”
Coke Florida served as the Presenting Sponsor for the event. “It was the perfect way for us to close Black History Month 2022. Seeing multiple generations on the course and in the seminars sharing together was a personal honor for me. We are committed to our communities through education and economic empowerment, and this event provided the opportunity to do both,” said Percy L. Wells, II, Group Vice President, Government Relations, Public Affairs, and Communications. “I am also proud of our many Orlando based associates who volunteered at the event and to our community partners who supported this effort by bringing young students to the course for this history making event,” Wells added.
UGA, the United Golfers Association, is one of the leading organizations specifically created to increase diversity in the sport of golf. Thorpe and several other Black golfers began their careers as members of UGA, which originated in 1925, and hosted a series of professional golf tournaments for Black people during racial segregation in the United States.
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About Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC
Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC (Coke Florida) is a family-owned independent Coca-Cola bottler. Coke Florida has an exclusive sales and distribution territory that covers over 21 million consumers across 47 Florida counties, and includes the major metropolitan markets of Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. Coke Florida markets, sells, manufactures, distributes, and merchandises over 600 products of The Coca-Cola Company and other partner companies. The company is the third largest privately held and the sixth largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the United States. The company is also one of the largest Black-owned businesses in the United States. Coke Florida was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida.