DULUTH, Ga. -- When Tiger Woods called about his July 4th tournament in Washington, D.C., AT&T answered the phone. And who wouldn't want to associate their corporate name with the best player who ever lived? It hasn't hurt Nike much.
On the other hand, the departure of AT&T left the old Atlanta Classic, 40 years young this year, in critical condition. Tournament director Dave Kaplan says they continue to actively pursue potential sponsors, noting that two solid prospects he declined to name will be on the premises this weekend. One of the companies actually contacted the PGA Tour immediately after AT&T pulled out last November and has remained interested throughout but, clearly, not interested enough to put anything in writing, so far. Kaplan also noted one corporation expressing an interest in Atlanta several years ago was UPS, though the FedEx Cup has effectively closed that avenue. The fact is, a down economy is a lousy time to be looking for someone with deep pockets.
"If it was 18 months ago or 18 months from now," Kaplan says almost wistfully. "We've talked to everyone in Atlanta that would be capable, where it would make sense." He also indicated the March Tampa event lacking a title sponsor, the ex-PODS, was close to inking a deal. While Kaplan says the PGA Tour has been very supportive (Who would want to lose one of America's largest metropolitan markets?) he also knows there will be a limit to how long Ponte Vedra will wait to potentially move a tournament now slotted in the Fall Series into a coveted 2009 May date. Could Bobby Ginn's real estate and resort empire be on the move?
-- Jim Moriarty