TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth will host the Greater Gwinnett Championship, one of the events on the PGA Champions Tour, April 15-21, 2013. TPC Sugarloaf also will serve as the site for the golf tournament though 2016.
Champions Tour, Gwinnett Sports Commission, Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, and TPC Sugarloaf officials announced the tour dates at a press conference Tuesday (Oct. 2) in the TPC Sugarloaf Clubhouse.
Everyone who spoke was excited about the return of championship golf to Gwinnett County and TPC Sugarloaf. Its departure had left “a huge void,” said Stan Hall, executive director of the Gwinnett Sports Commission.
“We’re so excited to have the PGA Tour back in Gwinnett and back at the beautiful TPC Sugarloaf course,” Hall said.
“I believe the event will serve as an important injection to our economy,” he also said.
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Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash could hardly contain her excitement. “I can’t tell you how excited we are about this,” she said. Nash attended the press conference accompanied by Commissioners Lynette Howard and Jace Brooks, whose District 1 includes Duluth. Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris also was present.
Beda Johnson, director of the Tourism Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said the economic impact of the Champions Tour at TPC Sugarloaf would be invaluable. “We’re determined to make this the greatest tournament in Georgia,’ she said.
“We’ve been working hard to bring Champions Tour golf back to Atlanta and to TPC Sugarloaf,” said Miller Brady, vice president of Champions Tour Business Affairs.
The Greater Gwinnett Championship will be a new event on the Champions Tour. It will be one of 24 Champions Tour events in 2013 and 26 the following year.
The Gwinnett Sports Commission will operate the 54-hole (three rounds) stroke play tournament with 81 Champions Tour professionals competing for a $1.8-million purse. The Champions Tour is for golfers over 50.
The Greater Gwinnett Championship is expected to attract many notable golfers such as World Golf Hall of Fame members Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, and Larry Nelson. Current Champions Tour members also include Mark Calcavecchia, Corey Pavin, Wayne Levi, Scott Simpson, Bob Tway, Keith Fergus, Andy Bean, Jerry Pate and Hal Sutton.
Duffy Waldorf, a Champions Tour rookie, Tiger Woods, Ben Crane, and Phil Mickelson share the TPC Sugarloaf course record of 63.
Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating of Suwanee, official sponsor of the PGA Tour, will present the Greater Gwinnett Championship. The tournament will coincide with the opening of a Mitsubishi expansion in Gwinnett County, William Rau, senior vice president and general manager, said.
The most recent tournament hosted by TPC Sugarloaf was the 2008 AT&T Classic. TPC Sugarloaf was the site of this tournament from 1997-2008.
The last time a Champions Tour event was played in the metro Atlanta area was 12 years ago, when Hale Irwin won the Nationwide Championship at the Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta. That tournament ran from 1991 to 2000.
TPC Sugarloaf, which opened in 1997, was designed by Champions Tour star Greg Norman. Three nine-hole courses are laid out on 1,200 acres of former farmland. The Greater Gwinnett Championship will be played on “the Stables” and “The Meadows” nine-hole courses. This is a 72-par layout that measures 7,259 yards.
All three rounds of the tournament will be televised by the Golf Channel.
Mitsubishi Electric will contribute funds from the tournament to local charities through the Gwinnett Sports Commission. Since 1993 the Champions Tour has been responsible for $1.6 billion in charitable donations, Hall said, “and we intend to add to that amount with proceeds from this tournament.”
The press conference concluded with Champions Tour golfers Larry Nelson and Corey Pavin answering questions.