Future of Cox Classic up in the air - Omaha.com
Published Monday, July 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm / Updated at 6:07 pm
Future of Cox Classic up in the air
Cox Classic
When: Aug. 22 to 25
Where: Champions Run
Purse: $800,000
TV: Golf Channel
Daily tickets: $20 clubhouse access; $10 grounds only. Available through the tournament office, 402-399-1800.

The Cox Classic tournament director wishes he had answers about the future of professional golf in Omaha.

“If I had my way,'' Chad Mardesen said Monday, “there always will be pro golf here. All I can do right now is dispel myths and rumors while waiting for solid answers.”

Because of the U.S. Senior Open, the Cox Classic was pushed back to its latest dates since its inception in 1996. The 18th annual tournament, with a record purse of $800,000, will be Aug. 22 to 25 at Champions Run.

All of the Cox Classic's major contracts, by design, expire after this year. Those includes Champions Run as the host course and Cox Communications as the title sponsor.

Champions Run's managing partner, Bob Horgan, has said that his club may be ready for the Web.com Tour event — one of the top stops on the PGA Tour's developmental circuit — to move on. Horgan also said he would consider how 2013's tournament goes before deciding.

Cox Communications, which has been the tournament's primary sponsor since 2000, has left open its options.

Gail Graeve, a regional director of public affairs for Cox, on Monday said her company would review any sponsorship request from the tournament board.

Mardesen said he'd like some resolution to the Cox Classic's future by tournament week.

“We've come to this crossroads many times and here we are again,'' Mardesen said. “It's like a three-legged stool. You essentially need a course, need a title sponsor and need a tour. I feel we have great relations with the tour. It's the other two we need.

“We're knee-deep in discussion.”

This year's tournament will have a few adjustments in scheduling because most area schools will have started classes.

The youth clinic and autograph session, normally morning events, will be on Tuesday, Aug. 20, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The pairings parties for the Monday and Wednesday pro-ams have been combined into a single event the Sunday prior to the tournament.

Some new parking had to be acquired for weekday activities because lots at St. Vincent de Paul Church and School, Picotte Elementary and Ezra Millard Elementary will be unavailable.

Mardesen said with 700 volunteers registered, the tournament hasn't seen a dip in its workforce.

There may not be a local golfer in the tournament. Because the Cox Classic is the last event before the new Web.com Tour playoffs, Omaha's field is restricted to the 156 golfers highest on the tour's money list. Gone are three spots for pros from the Nebraska Section PGA and the tournament's two sponsor exemptions.

Of Nebraska's three pros with eligibility on the Web.com Tour, none currently would qualify. Scott Gutschewski is out for the remainder of the season on a medical exemption. Steve Friesen is 178th on the money list, John Hurley 255th.

The Golf Channel will telecast portions of all four tournament rounds, including the Sunday finish. On the 18th green, after the winner's presentation, the season's top 25 money winners will receive their membership for the 2014 PGA Tour.

Contact the writer: Stu Pospisil

stu.pospisil@owh.com    |   402-444-1041    |  

Stu Pospisil has been The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports since 1990 and for golf since 1988. He primarily covers football in the fall, basketball and wrestling in the winter and track and field in the spring.

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