ATT Opts Out of PGA TOUR Sponsorship

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ATLANTA -- AT&T is dropping sponsorship of the PGA TOUR's Atlanta-area event after next year, forcing the tournament at TPC Sugarloaf to seek new financial backing for 2009.
 
The AT&T Classic, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2008, moved to a May spot on the schedule as part of the PGA TOUR's FedExCup format. The tournament was played in late March, before the Masters, and often plagued by foul weather.
 
While the later date provided better conditions, it also led to a significantly weaker field. Only 10 of the top 50 players played in this year's event, which was won by Zach Johnson.
 
Before its merger with AT&T, previous title sponsor BellSouth was committed to sponsor the tournament through 2010, with an option to discontinue after each year with six months' notice.
 
'While we are disappointed with the decision, we have enjoyed and appreciate our 20-year relationship with BellSouth and AT&T,' said Dave Kaplan, executive director of the tournament, on Friday. 'We will be working hard with the PGA TOUR to find a new title sponsor for this event.'
 
Three top events -- the Byron Nelson, Wachovia and PLAYERS championships -- were played before the Atlanta tournament, which prompted most of the top players to take the week off, including Tiger Woods and defending champion Phil Mickelson.
 
Along with the AT&T Classic, the telecommunications giant sponsors several other golf tournaments.
 
The tour's Tampa Bay event also is looking for a title sponsor for 2009 after Portable on Demand Storage's decision to drop out after the 2008 event.
 
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