Final Watson/McCaffrey Classic in swing |

Final Watson/McCaffrey Classic in swing

Jason Starr

BRECKENRIDGE – The crew gathered one last time under the Riverwalk Center tent Thursday night to usher in the 15th and final Watson/McCaffrey Golf Classic.

Today and Saturday, sports celebrities and local golfers will play rounds at the Breckenridge Golf Club and the Raven at Three Peaks to bring the Steve Watson and Ed McCaffrey era of this tournament to a close.

“This is a party this weekend,” Watson said. “There will be a lot of hugging and thank yous. The town of Breckenridge has been like family to me.”

Watson is in his second year as defensive backs coach with the Denver Broncos. His commitment to the Broncos and his desire to narrow his focus to work and family had a lot to do with the tournament’s 15-year run coming to an end.

“It’s time now for me to start really making my life a little simpler and spending more time with my family,” Watson said. “You reach that point and finally you go, “We’ve had a great run.'” It’s the 15th year, a nice round number, it’s time to see if we can hand it off.”

The NFL Alumni Association has stepped in to take that hand off. It will take over the operation of the tournament starting next year.

The event shouldn’t change too much, according to tournament director Karen Horsch, who’s been involved with the event for all but one of its years.

“It’s emotional and it’s bittersweet,” Horsch said. “But there’s also excitement that the NFL Alumni is going to pick up the event.

“We want to keep it the success it’s been. We’re trying not to change things except maybe take it to the next level. The NFL Alumni’s resources will help us out. I see the opportunity to raise more money with them behind us, because we’ll be working with a group of people instead of just Steve and Ed.”

The event is a fund-raiser for the Summit Foundation, which supports hundreds of non-profit organizations in Summit County. Watson agrees the tournament is in good hands with the NFL Alumni.

“They’re a great group,” he said. “And I’m sure they’ll have some strengths that I didn’t have. So I look forward to having them carry this thing on.”

As per normal, the tournament coincided with the Broncos’ June minicamp. That means McCaffrey, recovering from a broken leg, won’t be in Summit County until tonight, missing the opening celebration and the first day of golf.

Watson, mainly because this is the last year of the event, drove up after practice Thursday for the tourney kickoff, only to return to Denver for more work today. Like McCaffrey, he’ll miss the first day of golf, playing only on the final day, Saturday.

“Every year we have a conflict with it,” Watson said of the minicamp. “You can’t really change the schedule. The minicamp has to fall when it falls, and for us to have this tournament, we compete against too many other events around the country, and to get the athletes and the celebrities and all the things in, really this is about the only time to do it.”

Most of the celebrities are former players and have no conflict with preparing for an upcoming season. On the links today are Goose Gossage, Haven Moses, Rich Karlis, Earl Morrall, David Treadwell and Fuad Reveiz, among others.

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