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Riviera looking to host 2009 Presidents Cup

For the last few years, the PGA Tour has floated the idea of taking the Presidents Cup to the West Coast so that it could be broadcast in prime time.

Now it has an offer that might be tough to refuse.

Riviera Country Club, the venerable course off Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, met with tour officials Monday about hosting the matches in 2009.

"They're keenly interested in taking a look at this," said Michael Bodney, senior vice president of championship management for the PGA Tour. "It's all very preliminary, but they unsolicited wrote us a letter to host it."

Riviera general manager Michael Yamaki, who met with Bodney, said the cultural diversity in Los Angeles would be a perfect fit for the Presidents Cup. The matches, stretched over four days, feature the United States against an International team from everywhere but Europe.

"I think it's an easy sell for us," Yamaki said. "And the format is good because the fans know the person they're supporting will be there all four days and will play, not be a bench-warmer."

The Presidents Cup, which will be played in 2007 at Royal Montreal, has been held at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in northern Virginia each time it has been played in the United States. Tour officials like the connection to Washington, and former presidents have served as honorary chairmen.

But with a tighter schedule in 2007, the Booz Allen Classic has been bumped to the fall. One problem with keeping the Presidents Cup at RTJ is having two tournaments in the Washington area only a few weeks apart.

Meanwhile, Riviera has enough cache to give the Presidents Cup an extra boost.

It first hosted the Los Angeles Open in 1929 and became known as "Hogan's Alley" when Ben Hogan won three times in 1947 and 1948, including a two-shot victory over Jimmy Demaret in the '48 U.S. Open.

The PGA Championship was played twice at Riviera. Hal Sutton went wire-to-wire to hold off Jack Nicklaus in 1983, and Steve Elkington won in a playoff over Colin Montgomerie in 1995.

Riviera has asked to host another U.S. Open, although its future was put in doubt when the USGA awarded the 2012 championship to The Olympic Club in San Francisco, giving California three U.S. Opens in a five-year span.

One concern the USGA had was space for corporate chalets.

"We talked a little about that," Bodney said. "One thing they don't utilize are those lower tennis courts. There's a lot of room down there, and there seems to be enough room for a good TV compound."

One other issue was local interest. The gallery was noticeably thin during the '95 PGA Championship.

"You wonder about the L.A. market," Bodney said. "You've seen what's happened the last two majors, and that causes you to stand back a little bit."

February 1, 2006

 




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