Renewed commitments, confidence keep Senior tourney plans on track


February 27, 2002|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

Because of increased sponsorship from local companies and renewed confidence from the PGA Tour, the Greater Baltimore Classic will go on as scheduled this year, tournament director Brian Thompson said yesterday.

Thompson said that last month's meeting at the Camden Club between PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and local business leaders proved crucial for both sides to feel confident about the success of the renamed Senior Tour event, scheduled for June 21-23 at Hayfields Country Club in Hunt Valley.

"I thought it was huge," said Thompson. "It was very beneficial for the sponsors to see the commissioner come up to Baltimore, and I think the Tour got to see that the sponsors were committed to supporting the tournament here."

Last year's tournament, then called the State Farm Senior Classic, drew larger crowds to Hayfields than it had in any of its three previous years at Hobbit's Glen Golf Club in Columbia. But the event continued to be marred by financial problems, which were compounded when State Farm ended its sponsorship.

While the players received their prize money from a purse of $1.45 million, several vendors reportedly had not been paid. As a result, there was a possibility the PGA Tour would either pick up the bill or close down the tournament.

Though the tournament is without a single title sponsor, Thompson said there is enough of a financial commitment from companies such as Comcast, Aegon USA, McCormick and MBNA to ensure the past bills will be paid from the $3.5 million operating budget.

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