Jerry Kelly won at the Cologuard Classic this past weekend. You read that right. He won – despite finishing T19 and seven strokes behind Champion David Toms.
Allow me to explain.
Sure, as tournament host for The Cologuard Classic, Kelly would’ve loved actually winning the tournament.
But Jerry Kelly will likely tell you he wins this event every year, regardless of his final score.
He wins it by honoring his late friend Rob Andringa. He wins it by inviting, this year alone, over 200 colon cancer survivors to the tournament to celebrate their lives and spread the word.
He wins it by turning the loss of a close friend into a mission that has matched or surpassed his desire to win on the golf course.
“I get to play golf, but I want to do this,” Kelly says with a sense of purpose.
Let’s start with the obvious. Jerry Kelly really likes winning golf tournaments.
On the PGA Champions Tour alone, he’s won 11 times in 131 starts. In professional golf, that’s an amazing winning percentage.
When it’s all said and done, Jerry Kelly will be remembered as a golfer by the larger sporting world. That legacy is secure. But chatting with him, you realize he would love nothing more than to supplement that legacy with his current mission – saving lives through colon cancer early screening.
“This tournament is creating survivors,” Kelly says with conviction.
"“What we’ve been given over the years – and being able to give back – that’s priceless.” — Jerry Kelly"
How committed is Kelly? Kelly is a walking billboard for early screening. He proudly showed off his custom Cologuard golf shoes as we sat down to talk. His Cologuard hat is adorned with two ribbons; one for Rob Andringa and another for friend Mike Mancini who lost his battle with cancer last year.
Both played the ProAm with Jerry in the past and the memories of their battles remain with Kelly today.
"“Mike and Rob preached (early detection) up until they passed. It is selfless and it’s creating survivors. This tournament is creating survivors.”"
You can see why I say Jerry Kelly won the Cologuard Classic this year. He’s going to win it next year, too. And the year after that.
And every year his goal is to bring more survivors with him. They’ll be there, no doubt, to spread the message about early detection and winning the battle against colon cancer.
Many will be there because they heard about early detection from a friend or loved one. There will even be some there who heard about it from watching Jerry Kelly at the Cologuard Classic and thought, “I should probably get screened.”
That’s the mission- spread the word. As the number of survivors at the Cologuard Classic grows each year. And you can bet Jerry Kelly will continue to feel like a winner.