As tournament director of this week's Touchstone Energy Tucson
Open, and on behalf of the Tucson Conquistadores, organizers of
the event, it is my pleasure to report that our tournament is
far from doomed--the word used to describe it in the July 20,
1998, issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. The 1999 Tucson Open will be
played by 144 PGA Tour pros before 100,000 spectators and a
worldwide TV audience. Doomed? Hardly.
People have asked me about playing opposite the Andersen
Consulting Match Play, which features the top 64 players in the
World Ranking. Although we weren't happy when we heard the news,
our event will prove that the Tour is deep enough to support two
world-class events in one week. We have major-championship
winners such as John Daly, Tom Kite and Corey Pavin, 47 others
who have won on Tour, and Ryder Cup players like Per-Ulrik
Johansson. With a sponsor and a contract with the Tour through
2002, how in the world could we be doomed?
The Tucson Open has thrived since 1945, when two-time PGA
Championship winner Leo Diegel convinced PGA tournament director
Fred Corcoran that Tucson was big enough to support a pro
tournament. It still is. Our field was one of the 20 strongest
on the Tour last year. Other events have heftier purses, louder
galleries and bigger TV audiences, but the pros keep coming here
because we run a great tournament. The mountains, desert sunsets
and warm hospitality ensure our continued success.
We've raised $5.5 million in support of youth athletic programs
in southern Arizona. We run the kind of event that built the
Tour in the first place, and every year we let our success prove
to commissioner Tim Finchem that Tucson is still big enough for
a Tour event. We continue to persevere, content to be the
genuine article. Leo Diegel would approve.
Judy McDermott has run the Tucson Open for five years.
COLOR PHOTO: JIM GUNDDEFENSELESS Tucson will make do without its '98 champ, David Duval.