Navistar LPGA free with donation in 2011

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - The top female golfers in the world are coming back to the River Region. The Navistar LPGA Classic is set to start in September at the Robert Trent Jones course in Prattville.

Monday, Governor Robert Bentley and others helped with the official tee-off the upcoming tournament.

Navistar International CEO Dan Ustian says his company is picking up the tab for the public's admission into the LPGA this year. "Nothing's free, but yes, people can come in on the golf course without paying admission...," Ustian said.

The catch: when you enter, you will be asked to make a donation. Proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warrior program, which helps servicemen and women get back on their feet.

"Help our troops, help kids find jobs and deal with some of the injuries they had when they were in Iraq or Afghanistan," Ustian said.

Help goes to those like wounded soldier Jeremy Hardy. "I was in the gym working out and a rocket came through the roof," Hardy explained, adding that shrapnel hit him. "It went through my liver, large intestine, small intestine. A little bit of everything."

Ustian believes it's people like Hardy who justify his company's financial loss for the tournament. Last year's admission was $10 per person and about 50,000 attended.

Ustian says he's hoping the gain will be more people and more support for the nation's troops.

Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie confirms the city was not able to commit the $240,000 dollars it has in the past.

Navistar makes commercial trucks and has a huge stake in the military, especially the Wounded Warrior Project. "It's our small way of giving back to the community and say, come on and watch these gals play, and do it on us." The hope is the real winner of the tournament will be the Wounded Warriors. For every dollar that's donated, 81 cents goes to the project.

The tournament kicks off on september 12th and golfers will tee off the 15th through the 18th. There's something else new this year, the LPGA will broadcast live. There's no tape delay for all four days of the tournament.

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