Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Texas Swing May Be Back ...and Bigger

EDS re-upped as sponsor of the Nelson last week through 2014, on the conditions that the course improve (it appears it has) and that the date improve from its lousy slot today. We appear to be getting indications now that an improved date for the Nelson may also benefit Colonial, Houston, and the Texas Open.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem blew kisses at San Antonio from afar again last week, hinting strongly that the Valero Texas Open will be added to a revamped spring schedule beginning in 2009.

It was a familiar flirtation but this time offered against the backdrop of the looming announcement of a tour calendar expected to include all four Texas events in a seven-week stretch of April and May.

“We’re looking at that possibility now,” Finchem told the Dallas Morning News. “With the quality of the golf course in Houston, the continued excellence of Colonial, the steps that are happening with the golf course and sponsorship (of the EDS Byron Nelson Championship) — and the Valero has turned into a terrific event and is moving to a phenomenal facility in a couple of years.”

Getting a date at a nice place, however, has proven problematic, but two developments are about to change all that.

EDS’ announcement last week that it is extending its sponsorship of the Nelson through 2014 came with a stipulation that the event, which for years was held on Mother’s Day weekend, be moved back into May. The tour, hearing from players, had already wanted to again partner the Irving stop with Fort Worth’s Colonial.

Fortunately for those plans, and San Antonio, AT&T recently announced it will drop its title sponsorship of the AT&T Classic in Atlanta, forcing the likely demise of the tournament and creating a long-awaited vacancy in May. With the Nelson set for May 20-23 next year, it’s expected that the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial will be positioned the week before, in the current Atlanta slot.

As for the last weekend in April, now occupied by the Byron Nelson Championship?

The Tour is doing a good thing here in restoring, and even improving, the Texas Swing. Hopefully this becomes official sooner than later.

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