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Jacobsen Still Backs Hartford

PGA TourCROMWELL, Conn. -- Peter Jacobsen, last year's PGA comeback player of the year, was back at the TPC at River Highlands on Monday, the scene of his 2003 sentimental wire-to-wire win.
There've been a few changes since then.

Jacobsen was on crutches, sidelined for eight weeks by arthroscopic hip surgery and the tournament he calls his 'second home' has a new name: the Buick Championship.
The former Greater Hartford Open, in danger of extinction after 52 years, was rescued in the nick of time last year by Buick. It is now one of four PGA stops that carries the auto manufacturer's name in the tournament title. It will be held this year from Aug. 23-29.
Jacobsen, a longtime fan favorite, also won the GHO 20 years ago and is one of just five multiple winners of the tournament.
The gallery embraced the easygoing Jacobsen, who bantered with the fans and shook hands throughout his final round of 3-under par 67 last year.
'Last year when I was winning the tournament or in the position to win ... memories of '84 came flooding back,' Jacobsen said during the tournament's annual media day. 'One thing I remember most about Hartford is the incredible support of the fans. When I was coming up 18 back in '84, there was no corporate row back then, but still there were hundreds of thousands of people up on the hill.'
The corporations did eventually show up and two decades later were the prime reason the tournament is still around today. When Canon pulled out after 18 years as a sponsor after the 2002 GHO, tournament officials cobbled together $4 million corporate sponsors to float the 2003 tournament.
'People come out and support this event because it's their community,' Jacobsen said. 'Whether the companies were big or small last year, they kept this event alive. It's because of the people, the heart and soul in this community.'
The tournament pumps about $20 million into the local economy for that one summer week. It's also the sole fund-raiser for the Greater Hartford Jaycees, who have donated about $24 million to charitable causes over the past 52 years, tournament officials have said.
Gov. John G. Rowland also was a driving force behind the scenes last year to keep the tournament afloat.
'He has always seen the tremendous value of the GHO and PGA Tour being in Connecticut as one of the most well-attended events in any given year,' spokesman Chris Cooper said. 'He did a lot of work and talked to a lot of people.'
Tournament Director Dan Baker said Buick brings a wealth of tournament know-how since the company runs its own golf tournament and is the title sponsor of two others.
'They know what they're doing and know what they want to accomplish,' Baker said. 'It's a big sigh of relief. For about a year and a half I spent so much time looking for a title sponsor. Now it's nice to be able to just focus on running the tournament.'
Buick also is the longtime sponsor of Tiger Woods, who has not yet played at Hartford. Buick's sponsorship has raised speculation that Woods might play in Connecticut one year. Also Monday, tournament officials announced that Nick Price, the two-time PGA player of the year and the 1993 GHO winner, has committed to the field.
This year's field will not include the 50-year-old Jacobsen, however. He expects to be healthy enough but is committed to the JELD-WEN Tradition, a Champions Tour Major Event in his hometown of Portland, Ore.
'Hopefully, I'll be able to come back next year,' Jacobsen said. 'I would love to come back to Hartford as many years as the Jaycees will have me and Buick will have me. Let's keep our fingers crossed that Tiger Woods will come play, because this tournament deserves Tiger Woods.'
It's already got a champion in Peter Jacobsen.
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Buick Championship

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