Woods-hosted event to be played July 5-8

New tour stop might be at Bethesda course

Golf

March 08, 2007|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Reporter

WASHINGTON -- During his rookie season on the PGA Tour in 1996, Tiger Woods and his father, Earl, set up a foundation to help disadvantaged children. They eventually opened a learning center near the family's California home.

The only thing that Woods and his father talked about but never accomplished was starting a golf tournament to benefit the foundation. Earl Woods died last year, but the tournament has now become a reality.

During a jam-packed news conference at the National Press Club, Woods and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced yesterday that the AT&T National will be played July 5-8 in the Washington area.

The event, which will carry no less than a $6 million purse and include a smaller but more select field than the normal tour stops, will presumably be played at Congressional Country Club in nearby Bethesda, pending the outcome of a vote by club members next week.

"This is a dream come true for myself," said Woods, 31. "My focus and my goal one day with my father was to be able to host an event on the PGA Tour. This is a pretty momentous day for us. ... I just wish my father was here to see it."

Woods also announced plans to establish a learning center in Washington similar to the one he built in Irvine, Calif.

On the tour's schedule, the event replaces The International, a tournament outside Denver that had been held since 1986 but recently announced that it was going out of business because it was losing too much money.

The announcement also comes several months after Booz Allen Hamilton, a McLean, Va.-based consulting giant, decided to withdraw as the title sponsor of a long-standing PGA Tour event in the D.C. area after it was moved from early summer to the fall.

"We're especially delighted to be back in Washington," said Finchem, who had taken a lot of criticism locally for essentially killing off the former Kemper Open, which became the Booz Allen Classic in 2004. "We weren't gone all that long, but we're back."

The length of the tour's commitment to play in the D.C. area was not disclosed, but it appears that the event with Woods as its host will be here for the foreseeable future, beginning with a two-year run at Congressional, which will not hold the event when the 2009 U.S. Amateur and 2011 U.S. Open are played there.

Finchem said that other courses under consideration for those years include the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va., which has hosted the Presidents Cup, as well as the TPC at Avenel, which since 1987 had hosted the tour event that became the Booz Allen Classic. The course will undergo major renovations beginning in July.

Woods will have input into where the event is played, Finchem said.

Woods said that having a tour event in the D.C. area around the July 4 holiday was part of the attraction because his late father was a former Green Beret who fought during the Vietnam War. For that reason, all active servicemen and women will be admitted free to the tournament, as will children 12 and under.

It isn't certain whether the world's No. 1 player will be able to tee it up in his own event.

"That will be up to Elin," Woods said of his wife, who is expecting their first child sometime this summer.

Woods hasn't played in a regular PGA Tour event in the D.C. area since 1997, when the U.S. Open was held at Congressional two months after Woods won the Masters. Woods finished tied for 19th.

"It [Congressional] kicked my butt," Woods said yesterday.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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