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Colorado Open Cancelled at Last Minute

VAIL, Colo. -- Kevin Stadler, the son of 1982 Masters champion Craig Stadler, won the 2002 Colorado Open in a sudden-death playoff last September.
There will be no 2003 champion.
The executive director of the event pulled the plug on the annual tournament Tuesday, just hours before play was to begin at Sonnenalp Golf Club in Edwards, due to a lack of sponsors.
''I regret having to having to make this decision, but I would rather cancel the tournament than to run an event that would disparage the reputation of the Colorado Open,'' said executive director Jack Doak.
Doak directed both the Colorado Women's Open and the Colorado Senior Open earlier this year.
''Both of the other tournaments were successful,'' he said. ''But those successes were not enough to sway potential Colorado Open sponsors.''
Doak said he could not find sponsorship to cover the planned $125,000 purse. The 72-hole event was slated to begin Thursday.
A Pro-Am event scheduled for Wednesday was also canceled.
Defending champ Kevin Stadler and his group were practicing on the 15th fairway Tuesday when they heard the news.
''I really didn't care to be on the golf course anymore after that,'' he said. ''I wasn't obviously too pleased with it. I took a week off from the tour I've been playing all summer to play here. I've been looking forward to this all summer, to spend a week up in the mountains.''
Doak said the cancellation did not signal an end to Colorado Open events. He said work would begin immediately to find sponsors for next year's events.
George Karhoff, Sonnenalp head golf pro, said none of the players blamed the course, and all were impressed with its condition.
''They all said that people with the club shouldn't feel bad, that it's not our fault,'' said Karhoff. ''Their biggest question was 'Where's our entry fee?'''
The entry fee is $295, and 156 players had signed up, Sonnenalp officials said.
''I have no idea where the money is,'' said Warren Wilson, the Director of Rules and Competition for the Colorado Golf Association. He said the association oversees only the tournament play, and has nothing to do with any of the entry fees or sponsorship money.
The event's 2001 champion, Brett Wayment, drove eight hours from Logan, Utah, to play.
''It's a big deal. My family is coming out Wednesday,'' said Wayment. ''It's their favorite trip. For most of us it's a big loss.''
''Canceling it was a very difficult call,'' said Doak. ''I probably waited too late. I always thought there would be some way, that something would come across. But it didn't.''