Champions Tour Unlikely To Visit Oklahoma In 2008

Monday, October 22nd 2007, 5:58 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Time is running out on the Champions Tour's hopes to bring an event to Oklahoma City next year.

Champions Tour president Rick George said Monday that there are still discussions of bringing the 50-and-over tour back to Gaillardia Country Club, but nothing positive has materialized since the idea surfaced a few months ago.

``In 2008, it would be pretty difficult to do,'' George said. ``We may be looking at 2009 at the earliest at this point.''

The main sticking point is finding a title sponsor to provide $2.5 million or more to back the event, which had been targeted for the weekend after Memorial Day next June. The Senior PGA Championship was held in suburban Oklahoma City last June, and the Champions Tour believes the market would be a good one to revisit.

``Everybody I talk to, everybody's gung ho and wants to do it and know we can put together a great event, and we know it will be successful. But it wouldn't be prudent on any of our parts to come there without a title sponsor,'' George said. ``We're going to continue to work as hard as we can to find a title sponsor, and if and when we do we'll have a great event in Oklahoma City. I'm convinced of that.''

The Oklahoma Publishing Co. sponsored the Senior Tour Championship when it was played at Gaillardia in 2001 and 2002. The course was upgraded in 2004 by a firm headed by Champions Tour golfer Tom Kite.

George still held out some hope that a sponsor could come forward and an event could still be put together in the next seven months.

``We're pretty much committed to where we're at with our schedule. However, if we can get that event done for '08, we have a date available. If we don't, our schedule won't change at all anyway,'' George said.

``We'd love to have the event in '08, but if it's going to be a better event by waiting a year until 2009 so we have more time to get sponsors and all the infrastructure in place, we'll do that. Really the key is just getting a sponsor, and once we do that the rest falls in place pretty easily.''