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Grand Slam to move to Bermuda

The PGA Grand Slam of Golf is leaving one island for another.

The PGA of America said Wednesday the tournament is leaving Poipu Bay in Hawaii for the Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda, the first time in its 24-year history that it will be played outside the United States.

Featuring the four major champions of the year, it will be played Oct. 16-17, the Tuesday and Wednesday after the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England.

"What remains constant is that this event features the game's stiffest entry requirement and is a treat for fans and players," PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb said.

Tiger Woods won the Grand Slam last month for the seventh time and has said repeatedly he didn't want the event to move.

"I've always loved coming here. It's just a shame that if it doesn't happen (and) we don't come back," Woods said after the victory. "But first thing's first. I've got to qualify. I've got four chances next year."

Players viewed their week on Kauai as a reward and an opportunity to unwind from the season with their family and friends.

"This has been basically like one of the great vacations for us as players to come here," Woods said. "The resort's fantastic. The people that come out and watch, support, there's just genuine people here."

The Grand Slam pits the winners of the Masters, U.S. Open, PGA Championship and the British Open in a made-for-TV showdown.

The tournament began in 1979 at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., and moved to Minnesota, Florida, Illinois and California before stopping at Poipu Bay for the last 12 years.

PGA of America officials have considered moving the elite four-man event to another city the past few years.

State tourism liaison Marsha Wienert said it was a business decision by the PGA to move the event. The state had paid the PGA about $250,000 annually to host and market the Grand Slam, with about half going to the PGA.

"We'll do everything we can to assist Kauai as they look at an event to take the Grand Slam's place," she said. "The state is always open to new sporting events. It's just finding the right event for the right island in the right time of year."

The loss is a financial blow for Kauai. The Grand Slam is the island's sole major sports event and generates more than $2.4 million in visitor spending and $150,000 in tax revenues. The tournament also helps market the island to a worldwide television audience as a golf and tourist destination.

Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, said she was "extremely disappointed" with the move, but proud of the work the people have done in hosting the event.

December 7, 2006

 




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