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Ford extend sponsorship of Players event

Ford Division will sponsor the Ford Senior Players Championship through 2006, the Senior PGA Tour announced on Monday.

The Senior Tour major championship will be played July 7-13, 2003 at the Tournament Players Club of Michigan for the 12th time. Australian Stewart Ginn won the 2002 Championship by one stroke over Hubert Green, Mike McCullough and Jim Thorpe.

CBS Sports will provide live weekend coverage on July 12-13, with USA Network airing the early rounds on July 10-11.

"For 10 years, the Senior Tour and Ford have enjoyed a strong partnership and together have significantly enhanced the Ford Senior Players Championship," said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. "We look forward to entering the next decade with them as the Senior Tour continues to evolve in many new and exciting ways and welcomes more and more PGA Tour stars. We appreciate Ford's strong commitment to both the Senior PGA Tour and the PGA Tour as evidenced by today's announcement and the Ford Championship announcement of two weeks ago."

"We are pleased to sponsor this Senior PGA Tour major championship," said Steve Lyons, president, Ford Division. "We are excited about some of the changes under way. The Tour has a new energy and we look forward to seeing some of the greatest names in golf participating in the Championship during the coming years. This event, along with our sponsorship of the Ford Championship at Doral, our relationship with Phil Mickelson and our partnership with Jim Ahern, gives us the well-rounded golf program we were looking for. This event is good for Ford Division and it's good for metro Detroit."

The Senior Tour introduced a series of new initiatives at the beginning of 2002 designed to deliver fans and sponsors a new and unique Senior Tour experience. These include allowing fans to walk in the fairways behind the last group on the weekend, player interviews with the public after play, live on-course television interviews with Players, a game-improvement platform involving exhibitions and clinics with prominent instructors such as Dave Pelz and Jim McLean both on site and on television, and honorary observers allowing "inside the ropes" access to sponsors and contest winners. The initiatives will be fully implemented in 2003.

Members of the 2003 Senior Tour rookie class who will be eligible to compete in the Ford Senior Players Championship are Jerry Pate, a former U.S. Open, Players Championship winner, and Craig Stadler, a former Masters champion. They qualify under a new eligibility category that was recently approved by the Senior Tour Division Board. The category grants a spot in the field to past Players Championship, Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and and PGA Championship winners who turn 50 after this year's Ford Senior Players.

Earlier this month, Ford and the PGA Tour announced that Ford will sponsor the Ford Championship at Doral Resort & Spa in Miami through 2006. The 2003 dates are March 3-9.

The Ford Senior Players Championship celebrates its 21st playing in 2003. Past champions of the event include World Golf Hall of Fame members Arnold Palmer ('84, '85), Chi Chi Rodriguez ('86), Gary Player ('87), Billy Casper ('88), Jack Nicklaus ('90), Hale Irwin ('99) and Ray Floyd ('96, '00).

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