Tuesday, December 23, 2008

US PGA Tour takes its first hit - Ginn

sur Mer Classic disappears off calendar

The US PGA Tour's view that they could ride out the global economic crisis without taking any big hits is beginning to look just a little bit like whistling in the dark.
Today came the news tha the Ginn sur Mer Classic, has gone by the boards.
The $4.6 million Fall Series event, staged in the penultimate week of the season since its inception in 2007, has been written off with three years remaining on its sponsorship deal.
The Fall Series line-up has come down from seven events to five, although a new tournament is still being considered.
The beleagured Ginn Company is still, in theory, sponsoring several events across the LPGA and Champions (Seniors) Tour but these are also in doubt.
Ginn, a Florida-based real-estate development firm, at one point sponsored four big-money events on the US PGA, Champions and LPGA circuits. The company last fall bought its way out of its multi-year contract for a second LPGA tournament, the Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika Sorenstam, in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.
It was unclear whether Ginn effectively bought its way out of its US PGA Tour contract, although since sponsorship pacts with the organization are close to iron-clad, that seems the most likely scenario.
"We don't have any comment on Ginn as we are still in discussions with its representatives," said US PGA Tour communications chief Ty Votaw.
A Ginn spokesman declined comment and said he hadn't spoken with company executives about the decision to pull the plug on the Ginn sur Mer, and would not speculate on the future of the LPGA and Champions tournaments, which were once among the richest on those two tours.
The purse of the company's LPGA tournament in April, the Ginn Open, hasn't yet been announced but has been throttled back from its previous levels.
The Ginn Company has been targeted by a handful of lawsuits and the value of properties at several of its communities has plummeted in value.
The PGA Tour has several title sponsors from the automobile or financial-services sectors that are reeling from the recession, although the other events tied to those ailing industries at the moment are scheduled to be staged as planned, including the two tournaments sponsored by Buick, which recently severed its endorsement contract with Tiger Woods a year early.
As it stands, the US PGA Tour will have at least two open dates. With the Valero Texas Open moving from the fall into the regular season to replace the defunct AT&T event in Atlanta, there will be no tournament held opposite the Presidents Cup matches (October 8-11).
There's also an open week from September 14-20 during the FedEx Cup play-offs. If the Ginn date remains vacant, the 10½-month season would feature three open weeks.

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