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Golfer goes on Ebay to support PGA Tour bid

Willing to dole out thousands of dollars to help further the career of a golfer you've probably never heard of?

Brian Payne is looking for you. Payne has gone on eBay looking for someone to sponsor him as he pursues his dream of playing professional golf on the PGA tour.

Payne is seeking at least $10,000 US - the starting bid he set for the online auction - to defray his expenses for the 2005 season. In return, he'll give up to half of whatever he wins on tournaments to the charity selected by whoever sponsors him. He'll also give 10 per cent of the winning bid to two charities he's selected.

"I call it a win-win-win opportunity," said Payne, a suburban Chicago resident who is now in Orlando, Fla., practising and playing in small tournaments. "The winning bidder, myself and a couple of charities. Everybody's going to benefit."

Payne, 31, isn't just some guy who doesn't like his job at the shoe store. He can play golf.

An All Big Ten golfer while at Northwestern University, Payne has won some professional tournaments - including the Illinois Open and a Canadian Tour tournament.

That's him holding a trophy from the 2002 Illinois Open on the eBay listing titled "Golf Sponsorship: Sponsor a Tour Winning Pro Golfer."

But the payday for winning the kind of tournaments he's been playing in for the last six years is at most about $20,000, a far cry from the checks for as much as $1 million going to winners of the big PGA tournaments.

Payne's biggest year was 2001 when he took home $62,000 - not much when you consider Payne estimates that golfers shell out $40,000 to $60,000 per year just paying for everything from hotel rooms to golf balls as they travel from tournament to tournament.

Like many golfers in his position, he's had sponsors who have paid his expenses. But that ended after the 2003 season. Since then, he's been paying his own way with his winnings and the money his wife makes working at computer firm in Chicago.

So, as he has looked for ways to raise "operating capital," he thought that perhaps eBay, where just about everything imaginable is for sale, could help him sell a piece of his career.

Elizabeth Payne, who also played collegiate golf at Northwestern, liked her husband's idea.

The response from the company, which has had some experience with human listings, was, "Why not?"

"We've had people try to sell minor league baseball teams and hockey teams," said eBay spokesman Hani Durzy. "We had someone try to sell a weekend in Las Vegas with Dennis Rodman."

Payne is aware of what people might think of someone asking others to pick up his dinner tabs so that he can devote himself to a game and ultimately crack a tour where he could become rich.

"The whole point of this for me ... is that I just felt like I could raise money in a way that would not only benefit myself but other causes far greater than golf," he said.

 

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