The Start of The Tucson Conquistadores
The late Roy P. Drachman was the founding father of the Tucson Conquistadores. In the October 23, 1962, Arizona Daily Star, Jim Herman reports on Drachman's first organizational meeting at the El Conquistador Hotel the night before. The 41 business professionals who formed the original Conquistadores were the leaders of their day. Drachman recognized a need in the community, that of "extra-curricular support of deserving athletes as well as other community sporting events". Drachman also noted to the Star “we’ll definitely be a working organization, not an honorary”. He successfully recruited the people who pledged to fill that need.
In 1966, the Conquistadores adopted the Tucson Open golf tournament. The high-powered group turned the fledging PGA TOUR event into an exciting professional sporting and community event which continues through today raising millions of dollars for youth programs.
History of the Tournament
In 1962, Roy P Drachman and 40 other visionary businessmen and professionals in Tucson formed a sports booster organization that pledged to inspire youth to participate in local sports organizations. Their first official meeting was held on October 22nd at the El Conquistador Hotel. In 1963, the Tucson Conquistadores held their first fundraiser, a Sports Banquet, at the Pioneer Hotel.
In November of 1965, The Tucson Golf Association relinquished control of the Tucson Open to the Tucson Conquistadores. The first Tucson Open golf tournament was held in 1966 and was proclaimed Tucson's first sporting event to be broadcast on national TV. The event became immediately popular and attracting attention to the likes of Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Lawrence Welk. In 1969, Lee Trevino won the Tucson Open. The 1970s were the celebrity era when Dean Martin was crowned the host of the Tucson Open in 1973. AT that time it was popular for celebrities to attach their names to golf tournaments. The Tucson Conquistadores sought Dean Martin out and negotiated his participation by formally signing a cocktail napkin. By 1976, the Tucson Open became the NBC Tucson Open with Joe Garagiola leading the charge. Joe Garagiola enticed President Gerald Ford to attend the Pro-Am as his partner which drew the largest crowd Tucson National had seen to date.
The high-powered group turned the fledging PGA TOUR event into an exciting professional sporting and community event which continued through 2006 raising millions of dollars for youth programs.
From 2007 through 2014, the Tucson Conquistadores served as the tournament leadership team and sales arm for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship held at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain. This prestigious tournament featured the top 64 golfers in the world and created an unprecedented opportunity for the Conquistadores to raise record levels of funds for Southern Arizona youth. The tournament was televised in 140 countries and enhanced Tucson’s notability as a premier golf destination.
After the success of the match play that was attended by some of the biggest names in golf such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory Mcilroy the return of a golf tournament in Tucson was imminent. In 2015 the Tucson Conquistador Classic was born, as a part of the PGA Tour Champions. The Conquistador Classic persisted for the next three events with the winners being Tom Lehman, Marco Dawson, and Woody Austin.
Following the Tucson Conquistador Classic the Cologuard Classic was born. The tournament kicked off under the new name in the Cologuard Classic in 2018. The tournament was won by Steve Stricker who was the runner up the year prior and final year of the Tucson Conquistador Classic.
The following year 2021 would be different due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The tournament announced that COVID-specific protocols would be in place. In addition to reduced attendance, hospitality venues, “open-air” limited capacity private suites derived from COVI-specific protocols” was provided. PGA professional golfer Kevin Sutherland would win the iconic trophy with Mike Weir coming in second.
In 2022 things were more normal compared to 2021 and the Covid-19 Pandemic protocols. The top three players would include some familiar names, Bernhard Langer who had won the tournament back in 2020; Woody Austin had made the top three and had won the tournament under a different name the Tucson Conquistadores Classic in 2016 and was a runner up in 2020 Cologuard Classic. Miguel Ángel Jiménez would go on to become the 2022 champion. A fan favorite with some crazy highlights that included Jiménez netting two aces on the course to take home the iconic trophy.