Local invitational takes shot at '98 PGA Senior Tour spot Two-year-old event seeks title sponsor for tourney

October 12, 1997|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

The PGA Senior Tour schedule for 1998 has an open week and John Mathews, tournament director for the Toyota Invitational, would like to fill it.

The week of July 3-5 has been left blank, waiting for one of several potential cities to come through with the proper package. The dates fall between the Cadillac NFL Classic in Clifton, N.J., and the Ford Senior Players championship in Dearborn, Mich.

"We've made our pitch for title sponsorship to local companies, but none has come forward," Matthews said last week. "They have, however, indicated support at the lower levels.

"It's important to have a title sponsor soon, because, economically, you need a major contributor to make it work."

For the past two years, Mathews' Columbia-based company, EMCEE Sports, has conducted the Toyota Invitational, a pro-am event with some 20 PGA Senior Tour players in a two-day program at Cattail Creek Country Club in western Howard County. Efforts have been made to provide as close to a tour-like atmosphere as possible.

"Right now, we have some sponsorship prospects, but they are not local," Mathews added. "If we were to get it, it could carry some out-of-town name. For example, Kemper has its tournament, but not its headquarters, in the Washington area."

Other cities reportedly seeking a possible senior tour event include Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Portland, Ore., and Seattle.

From PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., John Morris, vice president of communications, said: "We're still in the process of sorting out several options, but there is no definite deadline. It is a priority, but it's not critical.

"It's a case of getting the right package and we'll move. However, elements from several of them are missing.

"As for the geography, title sponsors like to have their headquarters near the tournament site for the convenience of employees and entertaining clients, but it's not a requirement."

From Mathews' viewpoint, there is no deadline. "But it's clear it's late in the game," he said. "We're working exceptionally hard to nail this thing down."

Regardless of where the tournament goes, event coordinators are keenly aware of the time element. Right now, there are about 8 1/2 months left, but the days are slipping away.

Pub Date: 10/12/97

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