In two weeks, arguably the biggest professional golf tournament is coming to Manatee County.
The Concession Golf Club is hosting the World Golf Championships event that was originally scheduled for Mexico City, but was temporarily displaced for a year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Before moving to Mexico, the tournament’s home was Trump National Doral in Miami-Dade.
On Thursday, PGA Tour, Concession Golf Club and tourism officials held a news conference.
A title sponsor has not been finalized, though PGA Tour executive vice president Ty Votaw said an announcement will be made before the tournament begins.
The event, which is slated for Feb. 25-28, is not open to the general public, though it will be broadcast globally to about 800 million televisions
“There are a number of tickets that are reserved for members of The Concession and their guests and select other guests of sponsors and of the PGA Tour,” Votaw said. “Every fan will be expected to wear a mask while they’re here. It’s the three Ws: wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands.”
Votaw said that obviously you won’t be wearing a mask to eat or drink, but those doing that should do so away from the rope line and players.
The quick turn from moving the tournament to Bradenton, which started taking shape in December, led to the decision to not have spectators.
Bruce Cassidy, who is the president of The Concession, said he’d like to have another event in the next few years.
“We’re looking forward to that,” Cassidy said. “I’ve already had some discussions with Ty. This is kind of a kickoff event for us and I think they’ll be very pleased come Sunday evening and he knows that we would love to have another one-off as they’re available. We’ve already talked if that would be possible in the future. Yes, absolutely, somewhere in the next couple two to three years we’d love to have another one.”
Arguably the best player to come out of the Bradenton/Sarasota area, Paul Azinger, was also at the news conference. Now a golf analyst after winning 12 PGA Tour tournaments, including the 1993 PGA Championship, and leading the United States to victory as captain of the 2008 Ryder Cup, Azinger said the best players on the planet are coming for this tournament.
The top players, such as world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and others likely to play are battling it out over a $10.5 million purse.
The course, which was co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, presents challenges with undulating, slick greens where correct placement on the right quadrant of the green will be imperative. It’s similar to what players face at Augusta National for The Masters each year.
“It’s been said this is the second set of greens that Jack built with a more aggressive philosophy,” Azinger said. “The first one was out in Tuscon where they played the Match Play tournament. And this was likely the second one. So everything you remembered about Jack and the way he did greens, throw it away. This is different. So he went more of a strategic green complexes. They’re very sophisticated. And when you look, you have to make logic of it like, ‘Why am I supposed to miss that to the left on 18,’ … so you start mapping it out and it takes a while. Then once you got it, you see some genius in the way it’s layed in there.”
The tournament is yet another addition to the history of golf in the Manatee-Sarasota county area. The LPGA Tour held a tour event in Sarasota during the 1980s, while the PGA Champions Tour held an event in Sarasota from 1996-2000. Manatee County’s had the LPGA Symetra Tour and a Legends Tour event, while the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour is holding the LECOM Suncoast Classic next week at Lakewood National Golf Club.
And now a PGA Tour event, which is regarded just outside a major in terms of field strength and stature, arrives to the area.
— to www.miamiherald.com