Expect a “last-minute” rush for World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play tickets, said Judy McDermott, executive director of Tucson Conquistadores, the charity tasked with selling slots to Tucson’s premier PGA tournament.
The nearly 50-year-old group divvies the proceeds from tournament ticket sales to scores of local charities, from the YMCA to the local Special Olympics.
In each of the past two years, the Conquistadores have given about $1.5 million from match play proceeds to local charities, according to McDermott. Given the region’s economic woes this year, she doubts the group could match past years’ figures.
“The sad thing is that people can use the economy as an excuse, too,” McDermott said last Friday in an interview at the Conquistadores offices off Broadway Boulevard.
A nearby conference room was a veritable hub of activity as volunteers and staffers readied for the tournament, which begins Feb. 23.
“Tucson’s kind of last-minute town,” McDermott said, hoping that more and more people would call in the coming days to purchase ticket packages that range from $25 to attend a Monday, Feb. 23, practice round to nearly $200 to attend Monday through Sunday, March 1.
If Tiger Woods, who has missed the last eight months of PGA play due to a knee injury and surgery, announces his return to Tucson, then the Conquistadores might get a flood of calls, McDermott said. The guy is just that bankable.
Woods, the world’s top-rated golfer and the reigning Accenture champ, has until 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20, to decide whether he’ll enter. A little star power would only help this year’s effort, McDermott said.
The Conquistadores have been the ticket-sales arm of many a PGA tournament in Tucson since the mid-1960s. For years, the group sold tickets for the Tucson National tournament held at the Omni National Resort off Shannon Road. The group has given more than $20 million to various charities over the years, according to its records.
Corporate sales, for hospitality tents at the new Jack Nicklaus Signature Ritz-Carlton course, have been down, she said, blaming the dip squarely on the economy. But, the Conquistadores will pull out all the stops in a last-ditch push to sell as many tickets as possible.
McDermott’s pitch is simple: New course, great setting, top-notch, head-to-head golf. The event practically sells itself, she suggested. And the charities the Conquistadores’ efforts support count on it. For example, the local Special Olympics relies exclusively on the Conquistadores to raise money for its events.
The Accenture tournament is the Conquistadores’ only fundraiser of the year.
“It’s really hard to say no,” McDermott said of funding area charities.
But, with fewer tickets sold this year, that’s likely to happen for some, she admitted.
The Conquistadores provide about 150 member volunteers for the event. Those individuals have the best seat in the house.
The group is raffling off a top-flight Mercedes as well. Proceeds from that raffle will benefit area nonprofits.
• Contact the Tucson Conquistadores at 571-0400 or (800) 882-7660 for more information, or to order by phone.
• To order your tickets online, go to www.worldgolfchampionships.com
Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 23-24: Practice rounds
Wednesday, Feb. 25: 32 matches
Thursday, Feb. 26: 16 matches
Friday, Feb. 27: 8 matches
Saturday, Feb. 28: 4 morning matches, 2 afternoon matches
Sunday, March 1: 36-hole championship match