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Buick may take over sponsorship of GHO

The Greater Hartford Open is close to signing a major sponsor, tournament director Dan Baker said Wednesday.

But Baker would not confirm a report in The Hartford Courant that Buick is the corporation ready to do a deal.

The Courant, citing sources it did not identify, said Wednesday that the automaker is widely expected to become a major backer of the golf tournament, which lost its title sponsor when Canon pulled out last year.

Buick already is the biggest corporate sponsor on the PGA Tour. Canon had been title sponsor of the Hartford event for 18 years.

Baker said there would be no announcement Wednesday.

"Hopefully we'll get somebody ASAP," he said.

Gov. John G. Rowland said Monday he expected a sponsor to be announced, possibly by the end of this week.

"I have my fingers crossed and hear there are some contracts being signed," Rowland said. "I'm optimistic and feel something will be done this week."

A source close to the negotiations told the newspaper agreement was near but might not be ready by the time the tournament begins Thursday.

Players told the newspaper Tuesday on condition of anonymity that the automotive corporation would likely sign on as a television sponsor for three years at $2.5 million annually.

That would leave GHO officials to put together a bridge plan estimated at $3 million to cover the rest of the tournament costs.

Buick golf marketing manager Larry Peck confirmed three weeks ago that the company was talking with GHO officials. The corporation is in its fifth decade as the PGA tour's original corporate sponsor and has been the official car of the tour since 1984.

"When the tour calls about possibly doing more, we never say never because we're always looking for new opportunities," Peck said early this month. "We've looked at Hartford and a few other events."

GHO officials said no contract has been signed.

"I'm optimistic and confident, but we don't have a signed contract with anybody," said Roger Gelfenbien, chairman of the title sponsor advisory committee. "When we do, we'll let you know."

Buick dropped sponsorship of the Buick Challenge, but still sponsors the Buick Invitational in La Jolla, Calif.; the Buick Classic in Harrison, N.Y.; and the Buick Open in Grand Blanc, Mich.

Gelfenbien said the tour has not given the GHO a sponsorship deadline, though it would likely be in mid-November when the tour announces its schedule.


 

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