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Classic makes switch from BellSouth to AT&T

FCC approval of merger finalizes name change for PGA event

DULUTH - At least it gets to keep the Classic.

It's a name change that has been looming since AT&T and BellSouth announced a merger in March 2006, but now the PGA Tour's stop at the TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth is officially the AT&T Classic.

The announcement, made Monday, comes less than two weeks after the Federal Communications Commission approved the merger between the two communications companies and gives the tournament just enough time to incorporate the new brand into the 2007 event, which moves from the final weekend of March to third weekend in May.

"From a fan standpoint, and a standpoint of what the spectators see, it won't affect it at all," said Dave Kaplan, executive director of the tournament. "It'll be the same; new dates, new name but the same tournament."

Golfers already set to play in this year's event from May 14 to 20 include two-time defending champion and three-time winner Phil Mickelson and local PGA Tour pro Stewart Cink as well as Retief Goosen and Chris DiMarco.

The tournament's move from early to late spring coinciding with the name change is a stroke of serendipity for its planners, who were able to hold off on purchasing materials for this year's tournament until after the development of the new logo.

"We have to get new caddy bibs, letterhead, envelopes and we've been waiting for the logo to embroider those," Kaplan said. "It is just a lot of time that has to be accounted for. We'll have to scramble a little bit, but the fact that we have six more weeks helps a lot.

"Had we been in our normal week we would have had to publish things as the BellSouth Classic."

Because of the date change the only items printed with the old logo were sales forms.

What also helps the tournament is the concession by AT&T to allow the tournament to keep its branded moniker "Classic." Among the other PGA events AT&T sponsors is a Champions Tour event in California that boasted the name AT&T Classic, but its name has been changed to the Champions Classic.

"One of our requests was to keep classic in the name," Kaplan said.

The move benefits the TPC Sugarloaf tournament two-fold; allowing it to maintain its brand and saving it the cost of reprinting $35,000 worth of road signs used for event parking.

"They are DOT-grade road signs, we use them every year," Kaplan said. "They are needed and necessary and we would have hated to have to buy new ones."