Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Nationwide Event Enjoying 'Great Start'; A Super-Sized Pro-Am at TPC Sawgrass Is Already Sold Out

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Nationwide Event Enjoying 'Great Start'; A Super-Sized Pro-Am at TPC Sawgrass Is Already Sold Out

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

Five months before the Nationwide Tour plays its first event on the First Coast, signs are pointing to a successful launching of the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open Oct. 21-24 at the TPC Sawgrass Dye's Valley Course.

There have been 169 local charities that signed up for the Tickets for Charity program, in which they keep 100 percent of the revenue for selling tournament tickets.

The combined revenue so far has been more than $40,000, well on the way to the first-year goal of between $100,000 and $200,000, said Jeff Sanders, the tournament's executive director.

"We're off to a great start," said Sanders, a former PGA Tour player whose marketing company helped launch Tickets for Charity programs at the PGA Tour's World Golf Championship event at Doral and the Northern Trust Open, among 18 other events.

And rather than wait until after the tournament, the charities will receive their donations monthly.

The spot on the Nationwide Tour calendar, the week before the top 60 on the money list advance to the Tour Championship, ensures perhaps the best field of the year and an intense four days of competition.

Already, a pro-am that is double the size of normal Nationwide Tour pro-am fields has sold out. On Oct. 20, the day before the first round, a double-shotgun start, morning and afternoon, will be required at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium and Dye's Valley courses to accommodate the 108 pro-am teams.

Normally, Nationwide Tour pro-ams have 54 teams.

Volunteers will come from the pool of more than 2,000 Players Championship volunteers.

Based on preliminary surveys, the tournament should easily meet its goal of 800 volunteers.

"We're very pleased with the progress of this tournament in its first year," Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee said. "It's a testament to the work Jeff Sanders' people have done and to Winn-Dixie's market presence. It's going to be a great week."

Tickets are available in advance for $25 for the week, and parking will be free all week at the Players Championship lot off Florida 210. …

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