Troubled Stanford Financial Group has title sponsorship on two tours

(AP) — PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Tuesday the Stanford St. Jude Championship will be played this year, even as the Securities and Exchange Commissioner accused the chairman of Stanford Financial Group in an $8 billion fraudulent investment scheme.

The SEC raided the offices of R. Allen Stanford and froze the assets of three companies he controls.

Stanford Financial took over as title sponsor of the PGA Tour event in Memphis, Tenn., in 2007. It also has personal endorsement contracts with Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, David Toms and LPGA Tour player Morgan Pressel.

"We have no comment regarding the situation with Allen Stanford and certain of his companies at this time,'' Finchem said in a statement. "However, we want to categorically state that the PGA Tour event in Memphis will be played as scheduled this year.''

Peculiar about his statement was that he did not mention the tournament by name.

Stanford recently signed on as a title sponsor on the LPGA Tour. The Stanford International Pro-Am was held this year in South Florida. It was to move to the end of the 2009 schedule and be played in Houston as the Stanford Financial Tour Championship.

"The LPGA has been closely monitoring the developments regarding the situation with Allen Stanford and some of his companies,'' LPGA spokesman David Higdon said in a statement. "We remain in close contact with our tournament owner of the Houston event sponsored by Stanford Financial, and they will continue to update us on any new developments related to this matter.''

The civil lawsuit in Dallas federal court names Stanford; James Davis, chief financial officer of Stanford International Bank in Antigua; and Laura Pendergest-Holt, chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group in Houston.

District Court judge Reed O'Connor appointed a receiver to handle the frozen assets.

Stanford Financial signed a 10-year deal with the PGA Tour in 2006 to be title sponsor of Memphis tournament, with such deals costing between $6 million and $8 million a year.

It is to be played June 11-14, a week before the U.S. Open.

Finchem has been working this year on the title sponsor renewals of some 20 tournaments, including all of the lucrative World Golf Championships and two of its FedEx Cup playoff events.

Singh was featured in a series of popular commercials with Stanford as part of its "Eagles for St. Jude program,'' in which the tournament pledged to donate $1,000 for every eagle made on the PGA Tour toward the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

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