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2005 WGC Amex event goes to San Francisco

The International Federation of PGA Tours announced Monday that the 2005 World Golf Championships-American Express Championship will be contested at Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco, Calif.

The 2005 American Express Championship will be held Oct. 6-9.

"We are pleased to be able to bring the American Express Championship to historic Harding Park," said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem on behalf of the International Federation of PGA Tours. "World Golf Championships have been held at some of the great courses around the globe and Harding Park is a terrific addition to this list.

"San Francisco has a long and storied history of hosting some of golf's most prestigious championships and holding the American Express Championship at Harding Park will continue that tradition."

The American Express Championship is one of four World Golf Championships, a series of global events that bring the world's best golfers together in competition in various formats at a variety of international venues.

"As a global company whose brand has long been associated with excellence and achievement, American Express sees a natural fit between our company and the World Golf Championships - a unique platform that showcases those same qualities by bringing together the best players from around the world to compete in some of the world's most demanding golf environments," said Jonathan Linen, vice chairman of American Express.

Harding Park Golf Course was designed by Willie Watson and opened in 1925. Surrounded on three sides by Lake Merced, the rolling design was the longtime host of the San Francisco City Golf Championship and site of the PGA Tour Lucky International from 1961-66 and 1968.

"I am honored to welcome the World Golf Championships-American Express Championship to San Francisco's Harding Park Golf Course. The tournament will allow San Francisco to showcase to the world one of the finest public recreation golf facilities in the United States, " said Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco. "Additionally, American Express' extraordinary charitable contributions to our First Tee program will benefit hundreds of San Francisco's children, who would not normally have access to golf and the life lessons learned through playing this spectacular sport."

"What the International Federation of PGA Tours has done in bringing the American Express Championship to Harding Park is to make possible Harding's renovation so as to provide the municipal golfer with the experience of playing a great golf course properly maintained," said Sandy Tatum, honorary chairman of the 2005 American Express Championship. "The event will be great exposure for the San Francisco area and will also give the area's residents a chance to see the world's top golfers compete on a historic and classic golf course such as Harding Park. I am very proud to be involved with the event as honorary chairman."

Proceeds from the American Express Championship, as they are at all World Golf Championships, will be designated to the local chapter of The First Tee.

"Hosting the American Express Championship will serve to highlight the outstanding work that has already been done at Harding Park," said Howard Lester, CEO of Williams-Sonoma, and general chairman of the 2005 American Express Championship. "We are thrilled that the International Federation of PGA Tours is rewarding this commitment by bringing world-class golf to Harding Park and to the fans in San Francisco."

"Harding Park will be a great economic engine, a revitalized public park for all San Franciscans to enjoy," said Tony Hall, supervisor of District 7, where Harding Park is located. "Our city investment is paying off with this outstanding World Golf Championships event coming to Harding Park."

The 2005 American Express Championship will mark the second time that the event has been contested in the United States. The championship debuted in 1999 at Valderrama in Spain, where it was also held in 2000. The 2001 American Express Championship was scheduled to be played at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Mo., but was cancelled due to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The following year, the championship was contested at Ireland's Mount Juliet Conrad, where it will return later this year. In 2003, Atlanta's Capital City Club was the host site.

Tiger Woods is the two-time defending champion, and has won three of the first four American Express Championships, including the inaugural event in 1999.

Woods has been the dominant player in the World Golf Championships series having won at least one event in each of the six years since the series' debut in 1999. He has won nine of the 16 World Golf Championships, and in addition to his three American Express Championships victories, he has won the NEC Invitational three times, the Accenture Match Play Championship twice and teamed with David Duval to win the World Cup for the United States in 2000.

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