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Tiger Woods to host new AT&T National

The PGA Tour has replaced the International with the AT&T National, a $6 million event to be played in the nation's capital right after the Fourth of July.

Of course, the presence of Tiger Woods will certainly help.

The tour announced Wednesday a new event on the schedule that debuts in July, will have the telecommunications giant as its title sponsor and benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation. The host course has yet to be announced.

The inaugural event begins July 5 and replaces the International, which was pulled off the calendar earlier this year because it could not find a title sponsor - partially because Woods, the most popular golfer in the world, annually skipped the event.

It is a significant achievement for Woods, who has expressed his desire to host a PGA Tour event in the past.

"We hope to make the AT&T National a great tradition in this community and look forward to a wonderful partnership with AT&T and the PGA Tour," Woods said in a statement. "I'm thrilled the AT&T National is helping facilitate my foundation's East Coast expansion. We plan to make a lasting impact in this community - both on and off the course."

AT&T already is the title sponsor of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and AT&T Classic in Atlanta. It also is the title sponsor of the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship and the AT&T Champions Classic.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said AT&T has helped generate more than $100 million for local charities through its existing golf sponsorships.

"We believe the AT&T National will have a tremendous impact as the newest event on the PGA Tour," Finchem said.

The event also will recognize and honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Services. Woods' late father, Earl, was an infantry officer and retired as a lieutenant colonel. "It's appropriate that during the week Americans celebrate their freedom, the AT&T National will benefit young people and will pay tribute to the men and women serving in our Armed Forces," AT&T chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre said.

Woods annually plays a limited schedule that includes the major events, World Golf Championships and tournaments backed by his primary sponsors such as Buick and American Express.

The world's top-ranked player, Woods also hosts the Target World Challenge, an unofficial event following the end of the PGA Tour season that attracts a star-studded exclusive 16-player field.

It is uncertain whether Woods will play in the AT&T National, however. His wife, Elin, is pregnant with their first child and is due to deliver this summer.

This decade, Woods has played more than 19 tour events just once, entering 21 in 2005. He played a career-low 15 last season, when he took extended time off following the death of his father.

The Washington area had been a regular tour stop until last year, when title sponsor Booz Allen pulled out. Woods never had entered the event.

On February 8, tournament founder Jack Vickers announced The International would see its 21-year run as a tour stop come to an end.


March 8, 2007

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