D.C. area on list to replace PGA stop

Washington area may benefit from decision not to play in Denver

Golf

February 09, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun reporter

The PGA Tour might be returning to the Washington area a lot sooner than expected, possibly this summer.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said yesterday that the nation's capital would be on a short list of potential tournament sites to replace The International on the 2007 schedule.

The International was scheduled to be played at Castle Pines Golf Club outside Denver from July 5-8, but Jack Vickers, the tournament's chairman and the club's president, announced this week that the event is closing after 20 years because it is losing too much money.

Booz Allen Hamilton, the McLean, Va.-based consulting conglomerate, had withdrawn sponsorship last summer of an event that began as the Kemper Open after Finchem announced plans to move the tournament to the fall.

Finchem isn't saying whether a Washington tournament was the favorite to take the place of The International for 2007. Other cities that have been mentioned include Minneapolis and Portland, Ore.

"Obviously Washington is one of the cities that is without PGA Tour golf that is also a great market, and it may be that something fits there," Finchem said during a news conference yesterday in Colorado. "I certainly wouldn't rule Washington out, but I wouldn't say that it's a first priority right now either."

Although a tournament in early July might seem more attractive than one in October because it would affect the new FedEx Cup points race and its ability to attract some of the tour's big names, there are still hurdles if Booz Allen is going to get back into the picture.

The most significant obstacle is where the tournament would be played.

According to Finchem, the Tournament Players Club at Avenel in Potomac seemed an unlikely host because the venue, which is owned by the PGA Tour, is scheduled to undergo major course and clubhouse renovations beginning this summer.

"Avenel is scheduled to go into a total rebuild this summer, and it's out of commission for a year and a half. So it's probably not an option in the short term," Finchem said yesterday. Mike Sullivan, Avenel's general manager and director of golf, said yesterday that renovations are expected to begin in July but could be pushed back to accommodate another PGA Tour event.

Another potential site is Congressional Country Club, which hosted the Kemper Open from 1980 through 1986 when it moved to Avenel, and again in 2005, when Avenel was originally scheduled to be undergoing renovation.

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va., which has been the site of the Presidents Cup, and the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Va., also have been mentioned.

"We have not heard anything from the PGA Tour," said Glenn Smickley, the chief operating officer at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. "We don't know anything about an event coming to Washington, D.C."don.markus@baltsun.com

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