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New tournaments and money for PGA Tour

Seven weeks before its first event , the PGA Tour on Monday finally unveiled its 2003 tournament schedule.

It features plenty of new faces and new places, especially with respect to the calendar. In all, the tour will lose just one event from its 2002 tally, not bad given the economic climate.

"I think it's amazing and speaks to the quality of the product," said Kevin Weickel of the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World, one of the events with a new sponsor. "It also speaks to the quality of the players."

The season begins Jan. 9 at the Mercedes Championships in Hawaii. Orlando's Bay Hill Invitational runs March 20-33, and Disney is set for Oct. 16-19.

There are seven new courses on the '03 schedule and an equal number of new sponsors. Two events will make their debuts -- the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, N.C., in May; and the Deutsche Bank U.S. Championship in Boston over Labor Day weekend.

Three events unable to find new sponsors are gone: the Buick Challenge in Pine Mountain, Ga.; the Air Canada Championship in Vancouver; and the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Va.

For the first time, Disney and the renamed Chrysler Championship in Palm Harbor will be staged on consecutive weeks. It sets up a mini-Florida Swing in the fall with plenty of tension: They are the last two full-field events on the schedule.

Plenty of events are under new "ownership." The Tucson, Doral, Byron Nelson, Colonial, Pennsylvania Classic, New Orleans, Disney and Tampa Bay tournaments have new corporate namesakes.

Some of the most notable changes are in the order, particularly in October. Greensboro was moved from April to October and will precede Disney. Tampa has been moved back a month from September and the Southern Farm Bureau Classic has moved from its season-ending spot to October.

The dates for the John Deere Classic, Houston and Hartford events also have moved. Hartford, which used to follow the U.S. Open and was the last tournament to cement its financial underpinnings for 2003, was pushed back to July.

In a change that should create more interest in the season-ending, 30-man all-star event, no "opposite event" will be staged during the same week as The Tour Championship.

There still are a few concerns as events in Hilton Head, Reno, Hartford and Las Vegas still are seeking sponsors.


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