Thanks to readers Scott and Noonan for this Robert Bell story exposing the interesting relationship between IMG's Mark Steinberg and PGA Tour brass in delivering an improved 2007 date to Greensboro despite having no sponsor on board.
In May of last year, Brazil suggested to Long and other foundation board members that he contact Steinberg about lobbying on behalf of Greensboro.This is fun...
Brazil knew the tournament, which had struggled in recent years under the Greensboro Jaycees' direction, was turning the corner. The Jaycees were about to relinquish control of the event to a board of directors made up of some of the Triad's most influential business leaders -- a move that would give the tournament much-needed credibility with the tour.
The problem, Brazil said, was getting the tour to recognize this. Like other tournament directors across the country, Brazil couldn't get an audience with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, who was counseled in the restructuring by two trusted advisers.
One was Ed Moorhouse, the tour's executive vice president.
The other was Steinberg.
Finchem and Moorhouse did not return phone calls, but Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the tour, said Greensboro did not receive consideration over other tournaments because of Steinberg.
"But certainly when Mark comes to us with an idea, the tour is going to listen," Hughes said. "That's what we did in this case. He's very knowledgeable on this business. It would have been foolish not to consider his expertise."
Long said Greensboro had little choice but to hire Steinberg. Since he sold his insurance company three years ago for $403 million, Long has been inundated with business and charitable requests. One of his financial advisers is charged with screening who gets an audience with Long and, more importantly, who doesn't.
"There's a big difference between sending a letter to an executive and knowing someone who can get you an audience," Long said. "A letter might sit on the executive's desk for weeks -- if it even gets to him. To have someone like Steinberg in the room when decisions were being made ... Can you put a price on that?"
Of course, now that we know this final event before the FedEx Cup finale amounts to a shootout between spots 140-150 for those final places in the playoffs, and that it's before a stretch of four straight weeks of golf, is it really that great of a date?
Why would Tiger, Phil or Vijay or any other stars play Greensboro after playing the PGA/WGC Firestone and before the four-week stretch?