Avenel to host Senior PGA major in 2010

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 4, 2009 1:51 PM

The PGA Tour announced Wednesday that it will move the 2010 Senior Players Championship, the last of four major tournaments on the Champions Tour, to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, bringing professional golf back to the Potomac course that lost Washington's PGA event three years ago.

The event will be staged from Oct. 7-10, giving the Washington area tournament golf in a year when Tiger Woods's AT&T National -- held at nearby Congressional Country Club in Bethesda from 2007-09 -- makes a temporary, two-year move to Aronimink Golf Club in Newton Square, Pa., in order to allow Congressional to rebuild its greens and then host the 2011 U.S. Open. Before Wednesday's announcement, the minor-league Nationwide Tour's Melwood Prince George's County Open was the region's only professional tournament. The AT&T National is scheduled to return to Congressional in 2012.

The Champions Tour event will be the first pro tournament at TPC Potomac since it was remade and rebranded two years ago.

"We feel great about it," said Mike Sullivan, the general manager of TPC Potomac. "Obviously, it's a great opportunity for us to share all the work that we've done and get some feedback and more reviews from great players."

The Senior Players Championship is sponsored by Baltimore-based Constellation Energy, and the tournament was held at Baltimore Country Club the past three years. The club has one more year remaining on its contract, but club members voted to allow the tour to delay that commitment until 2011 in order to move the event to TPC Potomac for one year. The tour has no commitments for the event beyond 2011, and Sullivan said it was too early to say whether TPC Potomac would be in the running to host the event in 2012 and beyond.

"That's not a club decision, per se," Sullivan said. "There's so many factors. The AT&T event will be back that year, there's the Melwood event. You don't know who the title sponsor would be, so that's something that would have to be resolved. A lot of things have to align for that to happen."

TPC Potomac, originally known as TPC Avenel, hosted Washington's annual tour stop from 1987-2004 and again in 2006, but players complained of poor design and poor drainage. The event -- known for much of that run as the Kemper Open, for one year as the FBR Capital Open and finally as the Booz Allen Classic -- rarely drew a significant number of the tour's top players, and Washington was in danger of losing its annual spot on the calendar until Woods, AT&T and Congressional stepped in 2007.

TPC Potomac, meanwhile, underwent $32 million in renovations. The PGA Tour, which owns the facility, has a vested interest in making it suitable for top-flight tournament golf and showing it off.

Jay Haas won the 2009 Senior Players Championship at Baltimore Country Club. The event began in 1983 at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio, moved to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., from 1987-89, and then had a long run in Dearborn, Mich., primarily at TPC of Michigan, from 1990-2006.

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