The PGA Tour is returning to the nation’s capital with a guy who carries more clout than anyone in golf: Tiger Woods.
Woods will join Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus as hosts of a PGA Tour event, although still to be announced was a title sponsor and a golf course for the new tournament in the Washington, D.C., area during Fourth of July week.
The Tiger Woods Foundation will run the tournament, and the foundation will be the chief beneficiary of charity.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to expand awareness and interest in the work we’re doing for millions of kids across the country,” Woods said in a statement. “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.”
The tournament will be held July 5-8 and takes the spot in the schedule that once belonged to the International outside Denver.
The International cancelled its event three weeks ago because it could not find a title sponsor. Tournament founder Jack Vickers attributed the demise to Woods not playing his event.
That won’t be a problem in Washington.
Woods probably won’t play his new event this year because his wife is expecting their first child in early July. But he figures to be a regular in the long haul, especially with his foundation running the tournament and getting a big portion of the charity.
The world’s No. 1 player has only competed three times in the area – twice at the Presidents Cup held at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in northern Virginia, and at the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional.
The relationship between Woods and a PGA Tour event is even stronger than the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, which also benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. Woods has never missed that event, which is now part of the FedExCup playoff series.
He is host of the Target World Challenge, an unofficial event in December for 16 top players, which benefits the Tiger Woods Learning Center and other programs in his foundation.
Greg McLaughlin, president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation, said the Washington event won’t have any immediate affect on the silly-season event held at Sherwood Country Club.
“We’re very committed to maintaining the challenge season event we have in December in Southern California,” he said. “And we’re really excited about our partnership with the tour and the Washinton market.”
They will have to move quickly with the tournament only 18 weeks away. Woods and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem will have a press conference March 7 in Washington to announce more details, such as the title sponsor and course.
Washington appeared to have lost its PGA Tour event under the shorter FedExCup season, when title sponsor Booz Allen showed no interest in moving from the summer to a fall event, after the Tour Championship.
One course mentioned most often in the Washington area is Congressional, which first hosted the PGA Tour event when it moved to Washington in 1980. The TPC Avenel became the host course in 1987, although Congressional was used on a one-time basis in 2005.
Congressional is to host the 2009 U.S. Amatuer and the 2012 U.S. Open.
Also available, depending on club membership, is RTJ. It has held the Presidents Cup every time it has been played in the United States since 1994, although the tour announced Tuesday that Harding Park in San Francisco would get the ’09 matches.
As for Avenel, Finchem said earlier this month that renovation on the TPC course and its clubhouse would start this spring, but he did not say whether a tournament would return.
“With the rebuild of Avenel, it would be available by ’09,” he said. “It would become an option, even though we don’t feel a necessity to play there.”
Meantime, Vickers not only lost his tournament, but he saw it replaced by one that is virtually guaranteed of getting Woods. A spokeswoman for Vickers did not return a phone call seeking comment.