Tucson adds Champions Tour, loses Match Play - Tucson Local Media: Sports

Tucson adds Champions Tour, loses Match Play

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Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 2:24 pm | Updated: 2:42 pm, Tue Jun 10, 2014.

The PGA TOUR’s Champions Tour announced today a new event to be played in Tucson, Arizona, from March 16-22, 2015, on the Catalina Course at Omni Tucson National Resort.

The Tucson Classic will be operated by the Tucson Conquistadores and will feature an 81-player field competing for a $1.7 million purse as well as 255 Charles Schwab cup points for the winner. The no-cut format features three days of competition (Friday-Sunday) with players participating in Pro-Am events on March 18 and 19.

“Tucson is going to be a popular city for our players as many of them experienced success here during their PGA TOUR careers,” said Champions Tour President Mike Stevens. “We are thrilled the Conquistadores have become involved with the Champions Tour and we look forward to a long partnership in Tucson.”

In 1966, the Conquistadores adopted the Tucson Open golf tournament and turned the fledging PGA TOUR event into an exciting professional sporting and community event that continued through 2006. Over $15 million was raised for charity though the success of the Tucson Open.

The Conquistadores' PGA TOUR liaison Brandt Hazen said introducing a Champions Tour event brings Tucson's golf legacy full circle. ‘We think the fan base here will enjoy reuniting with many of their favorite players who competed at the Tucson Open,” said Hazen. He recalled that current Charles Schwab Cup points leader Bernhard Langer last competed at Omni Tucson National in 2001. He also noted that from 1984 through 1986 the Conquistadores hosted match play events featuring Senior PGA TOUR players. Gene Littler, Harold Henning and Don January were victors in those events.

“The Tucson Conquistadores and its members are dedicated to continuing the tradition of professional golf in Tucson, and particularly supporting young athletes” said John Webster, president of the civic group. “Funds raised from the Tucson Classic will benefit The First Tee of Tucson and other organizations, sports teams and individuals." Webster added, "We also value the economic impact component of professional golf and its positive impact on our community."

Tucson has hosted a professional golf tournament since 1945 and the event was played under many different names until 2006, when Kirk Triplett was the winner of the final edition and the tournament, known as the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. Triplett, in his third year as a Champions Tour member having claimed three victories since turning 50, is excited the Tucson Classic is coming to the city.

“All the players on the Champions Tour are enthusiastic about returning to Tucson,” said Triplett. “Living in nearby Phoenix, I love desert golf, so I’m really happy the event will be on our schedule next year. After all, I was the last one to claim that Conquistador helmet.”

Current Champions Tour professionals who join Triplett as winners of the former TOUR event in Tucson include Jim Carter (2000), Jeff Sluman (1997), Andrew Magee (1994), Larry Mize (1993), David Frost (1988), Mike Reid (1987), Jim Thorpe (1986, 1985), Tom Watson (1984, 1978), Gil Morgan (1983) and Craig Stadler (1982).

The Omni Tucson National Catalina Course has played host to the PGA TOUR more than 30 times. The 7,262-yard, par 73 course designed by Robert Van Hagge and Bruce Devlin is a parkland-style layout with eight lakes and 80 bunkers. The finishing hole is considered by many to be one of the finest and most challenging holes on the PGA TOUR.

“We are very proud to again be involved in hosting professional golf at Omni Tucson National Resort,” said Tom Kermabon, the resort’s general manager. “Many of the Champions Tour’s current professionals will remember the challenge provided by the Catalina Course, as several of them have competed here during their PGA TOUR careers. We look forward to hosting them again.”

Joe Brossart, a Conquistador since 2007, has been tapped as the Conquistadores' tournament chairman for the 2015 event. Brossart points out that the Conquistadores' responsibilities will greatly expand with a new tournament compared to its hospitality and sales roles for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play. "Fortunately, there are a hundred-plus Conquistadores who have decades of experience working with PGA TOUR staff on operating every aspect of a tournament from start to finish," said Brossart. "We're ready to make Tucson proud."

The Tucson Classic will be broadcast on the Golf Channel, the exclusive cable provider of the Champions Tour, reaching in excess of 205 countries and territories and more than 145 million households.

© 2014 Tucson Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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