Tiger Woods, the top-ranked golfer in the world, likely will be the main attraction of a PGA Tour event in the Washington area in the first week in July.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced yesterday that the tour had reached a long-term agreement with the Tiger Woods Foundation, the educational charity established by Tiger Woods and his father in 1996, to be the host organization and beneficiary of a tournament in the Washington area July 5-8. The site of the event is undetermined, but the tour is in negotiations with Congressional Country Club, site of the 2011 U.S. Open, to host the event in 2007 and 2008.
Tiger Woods is expected to be a regular presence at the tournament, though his participation this year might be affected by the birth of his first child.
"When Tiger's foundation is involved, he has a pretty good track record of playing in the event," his longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, said yesterday. "This year, it may be something of a wild card because his wife is expecting at around that time, so everything is pretty much up in the air. But I can tell you he's very excited about the Washington event."
Tiger Woods's association with the tournament gives the PGA
"This is a wonderful opportunity to expand awareness and interest in the work we're doing for millions of kids across the country," Tiger Woods said in a statement on his Web site. "I'm grateful the PGA Tour selected us as partners and am very excited my Foundation will host another amazing event, this time in our nation's capital."
Congressional club president Stuart Long, a Washington lawyer and businessman, said yesterday he has been in discussions with tour officials about the July date.
"That's where the tour wants to play," Long said. "Congressional is a democracy. We get together, we have a meeting and then we vote. That's what we expect to do. The tour would only do it for two years at Congressional. We're not interested in being a yearly tour stop. At the end of the day, I would hope [the members] will approve it."
The tour will have only four months to stage the tournament, an unusually short lead time for a professional golf event. The tour had the same amount of time in 1994 before the inaugural Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, yet pulled it off with few major problems.
In recent years, many top players have skipped the Washington tour stop because they either didn't like Avenel or because the date was not compatible with their schedules. Last summer, it was played the week after the U.S. Open, when most of the world's best players take the week off. Despite generally weak fields, the tournament was well supported by Washington golf fans, with weekend crowds often exceeding 35,000 a day.
This year's July slot came open three weeks ago when Denver oilman Jack Vickers pulled out of sponsoring the International, the event he founded in Castle Rock, Colo. Vickers said at the time that he was bowing out because he was unable to secure a title sponsor, and he also was unhappy that Tiger Woods had not played the event in recent years.