Thursday, November 29, 2007

Could the Texas Open Be Moving Sooner Than Expected?

The PGA Tour's Texas Open will definitely be moving within the next 4-5 years. It will move in location, from San Antonio's La Cantera Resort Course to the new TPC San Antonio courses currently under construction. And the tournament will move on the PGA Tour schedule, from its current position in the Fall Series to a more prominent date in the spring.

It's been expected that the course change would happen first, followed by the date change, with both being accomplished by 2012.

But in his column in the San Antonio Express-News recently, Richard Oliver dropped hints that at least one of those moves may come sooner than expected:

... there are increasing indications that the city's PGA Tour event, the Valero Texas Open, is in line to move out of the Fall Series and into the FedEx Cup portion of the spring schedule sooner than originally projected.

The popular theory has had the tournament, slated to relocate to its new TPC San Antonio home by 2010, making the shift on the calendar in 2012. That's when the PGA Tour's current television contracts expire, and new deals usually spur newly shuffled dates.

But several factors have stoked speculation that tour commissioner Tim Finchem is poised to reward the event by making the change sooner. Among them are the Open's remarkable ascension to the top spot in charitable giving and its durable association with Valero. Then there was the memorable final-round duel between Jesper Parnevik and Justin Leonard last month in the Open's inaugural Fall Series slot, arguably the most compelling tournament finish of any this season.

"Frankly," Finchem told Sports Illustrated last month, "I'm not sure what more you can ask from a tournament."

As Oliver pointed out, the Texas Open - despite its lackluster spot on the schedule and generally lackluster fields - has led all Tour events the past couple years in money raised for charity. The past two years the tournament has set new Tour records in that department, this year topping the $7 million mark. That's why the Tour might "reward" the tournament.

The PGA Tour needs sponsors like Valero involved, and needs to keep them happy because they do such a great job with the tournament.

On the other end of the scale, you have a tournament such as the PODS Championship, the Tampa, Fla., tournament played in March. Yesterday it was announced that PODS was withdrawing as title sponsor after the 2008 tournament. A press release from the PGA Tour included the tidbit that the PODS Championship this year raised $1.2 million for charity.

Hmmm, let's see, the Texas Open, with a lousy spot on the schedule and a weaker field, raised $7 million. The PODS Championship, with a much better place on the schedule and a stronger field, raised $1.2 million. And the PODS Championship is losing its title sponsor after 2008.

Can you see the Texas Open moving into the PODS Championship's March schedule slot in 2009? I bet Tim Finchem can see it.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:13 PM

    We can only hope Mr. Finchem is still a visionary ...


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