Monday, June 9, 2008
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Gwinnett Daily Post
A search to secure a long-term title sponsor for future events failed, leaving Atlanta Classic Foundation with the bad news on Monday - it will no longer host a PGA Tour event.
The announcement was a blow to the foundation and to Gwinnett, which had hosted an annual PGA Tour stop at Duluth's TPC at Sugarloaf since 1997. Before moving to Gwinnett, Atlanta Country Club had hosted the Atlanta Classic's PGA event since 1967.
But AT&T dropped its title sponsorship after last month's AT&T Classic, forcing tournament officials to find a new sponsor or face the dire consequences. That's exactly what happened and Atlanta's only PGA stop now will be the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.
"We regret having to notify the Atlanta Classic Foundation of this decision, but the absence of a title sponsor at this point has necessitated the move in order to solidify the schedule for the future," PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said in a Monday press release. "The Atlanta Classic Foundation has been a valuable partner of the TOUR since 1967 and has generated millions of dollars for local charities, primarily Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). We sincerely thank Atlanta Classic Foundation president Tom Coco and his board, tournament director Dave Kaplan and the thousands of volunteers who have given so much of their time and energy to the betterment of the tournament and community."
In hopes of maintaining donations to CHOA, AT&T has committed substantial donations the next two years.
"We could not have been successful all these years without the hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm of more then 1,600 volunteers," Coco said. "They are the cornerstone of the tournament's success. While we are disappointed to lose our date on the PGA TOUR, the Foundation will explore its options for the future in the coming weeks."
That future may include a local stop on the Champions Tour, which features the PGA's top over-50 players. Finchem's release stated that a "formal annoucement is forthcoming" regarding a Champions event at Sugarloaf. He said the tour is working out details with a U.S.-based global company to become title sponsor of that tournament beginning in 2009.