Booz Allen to Sponsor Avenel Event

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After 35 years as the Kemper Open, the area's PGA Tour stop has changed its name for the second time in less than four months.

Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., a consulting firm with headquarters in McLean, agreed to a three-year deal yesterday to sponsor the Booz Allen Open.

It replaces the FBR Capital Open, which was sponsored by Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group Inc. The event will be pushed back a week to mid-June, either the week before or after the U.S. Open, and again will be played at TPC at Avenel.

The new sponsor is the second in two weeks for the PGA Tour. The Greater Hartford Open was sponsorless this year, but Buick stepped in, and the Hartford event will be known as the Buick Championship next year.

Steve Lesnik, chairman of Kemper Sports Management, admitted the process of finding a new sponsor for the tournament in a short amount of time was difficult.

"It has been stressful," Lesnik said. "I've had many sleepless nights. But if you did all the X's and O's, you'd see that they'd have the ideal profile. It's perfect for this tournament."

The big question surrounding any PGA Tour event is: Will Tiger Woods play? It remains to be seen whether the world's best player will come to Potomac for the Booz Allen Open, but the tournament has a chance because it aligned itself with a sponsor that doesn't compete with a Woods-endorsed corporation. However, the tournament dates fall close to the U.S. Open, so that could deter Woods' participation.

Booz Allen Hamilton, founded in 1914, previously hasn't showcased itself in such a visible manner. The international firm with a staff of 13,000 and clients on six continents wasn't targeting a sporting event. However, it jumped at the opportunity to sponsor the golf tournament.

"We sort of found each other," said Ralph Shrader, chairman and CEO of Booz Allen Hamilton. "This is a first for us. We're very careful as to what we lend our name to. We feel we're a big player in this community, and we were looking for a way to be more publicly identified."

The tournament is aiming for the stability it once had with Kemper Insurance, which was the longest continuous sponsor on the PGA Tour. …