WGA is seeking 2nd event to help scholarship fund

February 17, 2010

For years, Chicago sports fans could rely on seeing three things over the Fourth of July weekend - fireworks, Cubs miscues and the Western Open.

Then in 2007, the Western morphed into the BMW Championship. The FedEx Cup event brought stronger fields to Cog Hill and afforded rock-star parking to Beemer owners, but it also pushed the tournament's date to September. Or, as it's known in the City of Big Shoulders, football season.

Now the Western Golf Association, which runs the BMW Championship, would like to revive the tournament. WGA officials have spoken to the PGA Tour about hosting a new event that could reside in Chicago or rotate among Chicago and cities such as Milwaukee, St. Louis, Denver and Minneapolis.

"We've always been interested in hosting another event," WGA Vice President Vince Pellegrino said. "Now we're being more vocal about it."

A rise in college tuition motivates the WGA, which awards about 230 Evans Scholarships each year through its charitable arm. The 2009 BMW Championship at Cog Hill generated $1.6 million for charity, down from $3.3 million after the 2008 event at Bellerive in St. Louis.

Another motivation is Chicago might lose high-caliber golf after Medinah hosts the 2012 Ryder Cup. The 2012 BMW moves to Crooked Stick near Indianapolis and sites for the 2013 and 2014 event are up for grabs.

The WGA, based in Golf, Ill., also might look into hosting a Champions Tour or LPGA event. But the big dog would be a PGA Tour event with a title sponsor willing to cough up around $7 million, plus $2 million to $3 million for various marketing, signage and hosting duties.

Cog Hill would be a candidate if it loses the BMW after 2011. The WGA also is curious about a move to a course on Chicago's North Shore, such as the Glen Club (Glenview), Conway Farms (Lake Forest) or the Merit Club (Libertyville).

Major decision: Because USGA officials left their annual meeting in Pinehurst, N.C., two weeks ago without recommending Erin Hills to host the 2017 U.S. Open, there has been speculation the quirky Wisconsin club could lose out to Cog Hill as the USGA seeks a Midwest destination. Don't believe it.

Erin Hills has undergone an ownership change and has needed extensive renovations, but that hasn't soured the USGA on the 5-year-old property.

"It's solid," a source with knowledge of the decision said. "All that's left is to sign the contract."

Strained quad: Four players left their egos at Pebble Beach's 14th hole Sunday after making quadruple-bogey 9s, including PaulGoydos, Bryce Molder and Alex Prugh.

David Duval, who tied for second at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, made bogey on the 578-yard hole Sunday after needing a 5-iron approach and three-putting.

"In the (U.S.) Open, it will be the hardest (green) and you won't be able to get it to stop," he said.- Teddy Greenstein

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