Sponsorship Still a Problem at Reno-Tahoe Open
The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority board of directors had intended to cut its contribution for the Aug. 18-21 tournament from $250,000 last year to $125,000 this year.
But last-minute appeals Thursday night from tournament officials and Reno Mayor Bob Cashell helped keep the support intact.
'We will embarrass the region if we are not able to pull this off this year,' Cashell said during the RSCVA board meeting.
The meeting to approve the authority's fiscal 2005-2006 budget highlighted ongoing concerns about the future of the PGA tournament at Montreux Golf and Country Club.
'I propose a meeting in September to make a decision if we are going to keep the RTO or drop it, but dropping it now, 90 days out, will put a stain on this region for bringing in other events,' Cashell said.
Tourney officials said they need to make up about $500,000 from decreased sponsorships this year, and that the RSCVA's contribution is vital.
'If I can't get your hundred and a quarter and I can't get the other people, we'll have to kill it,' Cashell said.
The 7-year-old tournament still has no title sponsor. The RSCVA contributed $500,000 in 1999 and 2000, but cut its annual sponsorship to $250,000 in 2001.
The Reno Gazette-Journal was among those who pulled back the amount of their sponsorship last year.
Tournament Director Jim Kline said after the meeting he will have to find support to make up for the remaining $375,000 shortfall left by sponsors that have pulled back since last year, including Tessco Technologies, AT&T and Saint Marys Health Network.
'I just don't like the fact that anybody thinks this kills the event or something,' Kline told the Gazette-Journal.
Fred Boyd, chairman of the RTO foundation, said during the meeting that he is aware of the 'ups and downs of RSCVA finances' but urged the authority to maintain the current sponsorship level.
Some RSCVA board members said they were frustrated with the continual requests to fund the event, the economic effect of which is hard to gauge.
'Fred, I really want you to know I love your event, although I wish it were done better,' Chairman Dave Miller said. He said the RSCVA already has given the RTO $2 million, more than any other special event.
'I am not really thrilled about us being held hostage with the threat we are going to kill this tournament,' Miller said. 'You are $500,000 short for this event this year. I still think $125,000 is a really good amount by the way.'
Reno Councilman Dwight Dortch proposed approving $250,000 in funding, but taking Mayor Cashell up on his offer to meet in September to determine future funding, to which the board agreed.
'I don't believe the RTO as it currently stands with the level of players is bringing visitors here,' Reno Hilton President Tim Maland said.
The RTO, shown on cable via The Golf Channel, is the same weekend as the World Golf Championships-NEC invitational in Akron, Ohio, which attracts the top-ranked golfers. The television contract is good through next year, and is being negotiated through 2010, Kline said.
Some echoed Miller's offense at being under the gun to keep the event afloat.
'If I get another e-mail like the one I just got, I will not support this again,' Washoe County Commissioner Bob Larkin said.
He said after the meeting that he was not suggesting the event go away, but that he did not like the tone of the e-mail sent by the RTO to the board members stating that the tournament directors would take a negative view of the region if the RSCVA cut funding.
RSCVA President Jeff Beckelman said the authority should have more money in its budget because it will not lose as much as predicted at the remodeled Reno-Sparks Convention Center this year.
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Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.
The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.
It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.
"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."
Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.
Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.
"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."