Hunt waits for word on tourney

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

The London Hunt Club will have to wait until possibly September to find out if it will he awarded the 2006 Canadian Women's Open.

Doug Alexander, in Halifax this week representing the Hunt Club at meetings, said yesterday the Royal Canadian Golf Association has not yet found a title sponsor to replace BMO Financial Group, which is ending its five-year association with the tournament that begins today in Halifax.

The Hunt wants the RCGA to resolve its sponsorship issue before going to its members to ask them to vote on holding the championship next July on the same weekend as the men's British Open.

Rick Desrosiers, managing director of championships for the RCGA, said BMO's contribution is about $5 million a year.

Desrosiers said it is unlikely the tournament would be held next year without major sponsorship. He said the RCGA could take on partial sponsorship if other corporate sponsors are found.

BMO became title sponsor five years ago after Imperial Tobacco dropped sponsorship of the DuMaurier Classic because of federal legislation forbidding tobacco companies from being associated with sporting events in Canada. Desrosiers said BMO came on board when the Bank of Montreal was changing "its brand image" to BMO Financial Group.

Desrosiers said he could understand BMO no longer needing to invest in marketing the brand as BMO is now well-established.

Alexander said while getting a final decision from the RCGA by September is not an ideal situation to organize a championship, it could be done. "We'd be coming out of the starting blocks in a sprint, if that's the case. Maybe we will need to come out running. It's not ideal."

Alexander said the difficulty in have only nine months to plan for a tournament, from the Hunt Club perspective, is lining up corporate sponsors of their own, selling ticket packages and planning a pro-am for the Monday and Wednesday before the tournament. He said working on creating a volunteer group would be less difficult

The DuMaurier Classic was held at the Hunt Club in 1993 and attracted record crowds, including about 20,000 the final day.

The club also made a $400,000 profit.

The Hunt Club expressed interest in holding a pro tour event -- officials were unsuccessful in landing the 2005 Bell Canadian Open --after the course was redesigned a few years ago by Rees Jones, son of the course's original architect, Robert Trent Jones.

The Canadian Women's Open's roots go back to London in the 1960s, when LPGA stars twice came to play in the Supertest Open at Sunningdale.


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