Sherman on Western Open Move

Ed Sherman in the Chicago Tribune joins the Tour schedule frey but raising the question everyone is already starting to ask.

...will fans be interested in seeing a multimillionaire pocket another $10 million? The tour will have to embark on a massive campaign to make this proposal fly. Indeed, the Western could be a big winner. However, if the tournament isn't played at Cog Hill every year, Chicago fans will be the losers.

And I think it's safe to say Ed Sherman is not a big fan of the Western Open's rumored move to September and a downright nutty idea to return the event to its rotating roots.

Moving the Western to September is radical in itself. But the biggest and most troubling change is a proposal that has the tournament site rotating out of the Chicago area every other year. In addition to Cog Hill in Lemont, the PGA Tour likes the idea of taking the Western to Crooked Stick in Indianapolis and Hazeltine in Minneapolis.The Western, which dates back to 1899, used to move throughout the Midwest. However, it has been anchored in the Chicago area since 1962.

"Nothing has been completed," Kaczkowski said. "The Western Golf Association is working with the PGA Tour to explore all options to make the Western stronger and more prestigious. We want to maximize the charitable dollars we raise for the Evans Scholars."

"The Tour wants to do it," Jemsek said. "The Tour has all the power."

Moving the tournament would be a huge blow to Chicago-area golf fans. The tournament draws nearly 200,000 spectators per year.

The players love coming to Chicago, and Cog Hill has been a popular venue among the players ever since the Western moved there in 1991. Also, Jemsek is on the verge of signing noted architect Rees Jones to do major revisions to further enhance the course.

There also is a risk in moving the Western from its July date. The Western has been a summer tradition, and placement on the calendar midway between the U.S. and British Opens helped attract solid fields. Of course, all that any tournament needs these days to be a success is one certain player. Luckily for the Western, Tiger Woods has been a regular at Cog Hill.

Said one local golf official: "If they think they can draw people in September for golf, they're nuts."