News Column

Disney's PGA Tour Stop to Seek New Sponsor

Oct. 16, 2012

Jeff Shain


Not only will Disney's place on the PGA Tour schedule being recast after the final putt drops at next month's season finale -- so will the name at the top of the marquee.

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals has opted to let its sponsorship deal expire after six years, leaving the event searching for new backing as it moves to the front part of the new wraparound schedule the tour will implement next fall.

"We got involved in the Classic to help us generate awareness, and it's been great for that," said Craig Sorensen, CMN Hospitals chief concept officer. "But we've had some changes in our organization in terms of budget and some direction.

"We're really focusing on how we can best increase fund-raising, so we've reallocated our resources into other things to help us increase fund-raising for our hospitals."

Sorensen said Children's Miracle Network will continue its relationship with Walt Disney World, the longtime site of its annual telethon, and is exploring a lesser role with either the tournament or the PGA Tour as a whole.

"It's been a good partnership," tournament director Kevin Weickel said. "But they've achieved what they set out to do with it."

This year's event will be played Nov. 8-11, the final edition with PGA Tour cards on the line. The top 125 in earnings at season's end retain full playing privileges for next year, with Nos. 126-150 keeping limited status.

Nearly a dozen athletes once again will take part in the pro-am portion of the tournament, paired with PGA Tour pros on Thursday and Friday for one tour each on Disney's Magnolia and Palm courses.

Joe Mauer, the 2009 American League MVP, has agreed to participate along with Tampa Bay Rays pitchers James Shields and David Price, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, Orioles pitcher Joe Saunders and two-time World Series champion Johnny Damon.

The lineup also includes former Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks and former Packers kicker Ryan Longwell, along with comedian Bill Engvall.

Source: (c)2012 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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