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BMW Championship Moving to Cherry Hills in 2014


BMW Championship and PGA Tour officials have announced that Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo., will host the event in 2014. The BMW Championship is the third of four events in the PGA Tour playoffs for the FedEx Cup.

"Cherry Hills has served as a worthy venue for many of golf's finest championships," said Vince Pellegrino, vice president of tournaments for the Western Golf Association. "We're looking forward to bringing the world's top players to Colorado for the 2014 PGA Tour Playoffs."

Cherry Hills has previously hosted two U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships, a U.S. Women's Open and a U.S. Senior Open. It's also slated to host the 2012 U.S. Amateur.

This is the first time Cherry Hills will host a PGA Tour event since the 1985 PGA Championship. "Cherry Hills welcomes the opportunity to once again showcase our course and to put Denver at the center of the golf world in September, 2014," said John Elway, Cherry Hills president and former Denver Broncos' great. "Hosting the 2014 BMW Championship reaffirms our commitment to opening our course for competition at the highest level."

The inaugural BMW Championship was held at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Ill. Cog Hill played host to the event in 2009, '10 and will host again later this year.

On Tuesday, the principals involved in the move to Cherry Hills sat down and discussed the 2014 BMW Championship.

MODERATOR: This morning represents the culmination of months of work between the Western Golf Association and our sponsor BMW, the PGA Tour, and this wonderful venue of Cherry Hills Country Club. So I'd like to welcome the president of the Cherry Hills Country Club board of directors to make the official announcement. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. John Elway.

JOHN ELWAY: Thanks, George. Welcome, everybody. Before we make this announcement, I'd like to thank George Solich, who really kind of led this charge for Cherry Hills Country Club the last 12 to 18 months, has done a tremendous job of really making this happen for this great club that we are a part of. But without George, this would not have happened, so George, thank you so much for all your work, and job well done. On behalf of the board of directors and the members of Cherry Hills Country Club, I'm honored to announce that Cherry Hills will host the 2014 BMW Championship, bringing a premier PGA Tour event back to Colorado. Cherry Hills has a long and rich championship tradition, having hosted three U.S. Opens, two PGAs, a U.S. Women's Open, a U.S. Amateur and a U.S. Senior Open. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are among Cherry Hills' prestigious list of champions, which also includes Phil Mickelson. Palmer won the '60 Open, Nicklaus won the '93 U.S. Senior Open with Mickelson winning the 1990 U.S. Amateur.

Cherry Hills is one of the nation's finest golf courses, and we are confident it will present a strong playoff challenge to the PGA Tour's finest as part of the FedEx Cup Series. Denver is a great sports town, and the community always has been an enthusiastic supporter of tournament golf. We believe there's a pent-up demand for PGA Tour golf in this area and expect a strong demand for tickets and corporate hospitality. This tournament does more than provide a premier golf event to the Denver area. To talk more about that, I'd like to introduce Vince Pellegrino, vice president of tournaments with the Western Golf Association.

VINCE PELLEGRINO: Good morning. Welcome. As John mentioned, my name is Vince Pellegrino. I'm the vice president of tournaments for the Western Golf Association, and the Western Golf Association is extremely excited to be here at Cherry Hills to bring back the 2014 BMW Championship to the great community of Denver and to present this event on a world-class stage. Western Golf Association has been conducting championships, both professional and amateur championships, since 1899, and is one of the world's oldest golf associations. In addition to the BMW Championship, we also conduct the Western Amateur Championship, the Western Junior Championship, and sponsor the Evans Scholars Foundation, and we are certainly looking forward to bringing the excitement of PGA Tour playoff golf to Colorado. Prior to the 1960s the Western Golf Association took what was then known as the Western Open out of Chicago to prestigious historic golf clubs around the country, and after being anchored in the Chicago area for more than 40 years, we've kind of gone back to our roots, and in 2008 we brought the Championship to Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, and in 2012 we're going to bring the Championship to Crooked Stick, and we're pleased to bring the Championship out here to Denver in 2014.

Bringing a tournament to the capital city of the Rocky Mountains also enables us to expand our awareness of the tournament's sole charity, the Evans Scholars Foundation. I was an Evans Scholar alum myself, and all proceeds from the BMW Championship benefit this great scholarship foundation, one of the largest and most successful private charities in the country. The mission of the Evans Scholars Foundation is to provide full tuition and housing for Evans Scholar caddies, for worthy caddies. We have sent over 9,000 young men and women to school since 1930. Most attend one of 14 different scholarship houses that we have throughout the country. We certainly -- we have one here in Colorado at the University of Colorado. We have 43 current Evans Scholars in the state of Colorado and 390 alumni from the state of Colorado.

Certainly Cherry Hills is a strong supporter of golf but also a strong supporter of the Evans Scholars Foundation. We currently have six Evans Scholars that are from the club and 32 Evans Scholar alumni. We also share a great golf tradition. As John mentioned, some of the champions of Cherry Hills also won Western Golf Association events like Palmer and Nicklaus and Mickelson and Guldahl, so there's a great synergy between Cherry Hills and Western Golf Association, and we couldn't be more pleased to be a part of this partnership, and we look forward to continuing the great tradition in the state of Colorado in 2014. We thank you for your support in advance.

At this time I'd like to recognize our great partner in this championship, BMW, our title sponsor. Unfortunately BMW was unable to attend, but I wanted to direct your attention to the video monitors in front here for a message from BMW's national experiential marketing manager Darcy Hala.

DARCY HALA (via video): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Darcy Hala, and I'm with BMW of North America. We are so thrilled the BMW Championship is coming to the Denver market in 2014. What an incredible and amazing cathedral of golf. BMW is proud to be a part of this tournament because it benefits such a wonderful cause, the Evans Scholars Foundation. By rotating this tournament to cities around the country, we're able to recognize for awareness for the charity as well as raise more funds. And I think when you attend the event in 2014 you'll see that this is a unique event on the PGA Tour. It's a premium experience that both players and patrons will enjoy. So on behalf of BMW we'd like to thank all of our partners, the PGA Tour, the Evans Scholars Foundation, the Western Golf Association, and most importantly, Cherry Hills. We look forward to being here in 2014, and thank you so much.

VINCE PELLEGRINO: The Western Golf Association also has a proud partner with the PGA Tour to help conduct this championship, and at this time I'd like to introduce Andy Pazder, who's the executive vice president and chief of operations with the PGA Tour.

ANDY PAZDER: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Before I start, I'd like to first offer a special thank-you to John Elway. John I would imagine a few days away from the NFL draft has quite a busy schedule, so John, thanks for taking an hour out of your day to be with us today. On behalf of the PGA Tour, I'd like to express how excited we are about returning to Denver with PGA Tour golf. As you know, we had a very, very successful tournament played down the road at Castle Pines for many years. Denver is a great, great city for golf, and we're very excited about being here in a few years. As I look at the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which started several years ago, our commissioner said, as we were formulating this series of significant events, our objective was to play great golf tournaments on great golf courses. He said if we do that year in and year out, we're going to be a very successful program.

So in thinking that through, the Western Open, now the BMW Championship, which started in 1899, you look at some of the former winners of the Western Open, Hagen, Sarazen, Nelson, Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, Woods, not a bad list of winners, and you look at some of the iconic venues that have hosted the BMW over the years, Olympia Fields, Oakland Hills, Butler National, Cog Hill, Crooked Stick, a very impressive list. And I looked at the history of Cherry Hills Country Club. They're on the verge of hosting their ninth USGA championship. As John said earlier, winners such as Palmer and Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson to name a couple, two PGA Championships.

The PGA Tour views the marriage of the BMW Championship and Cherry Hills Country Club as a natural, terrific fit, an iconic tournament played at an iconic club, as Darcy called it a cathedral of golf, and the PGA Tour couldn't be more happy about the opportunity to be in Denver in 2014. Special thanks to George for your hard work over the last 14 months. We're excited about our opportunity with the Western Golf Association and our partner in BMW. We look forward to being back in Denver in three years. We think it's going to be a terrific event, and we're very, very excited. I'd like to call up David Duval. David is a member at Cherry Hills representing our players and our membership. David is a 13-time winner on the PGA Tour. I don't think there's anybody more qualified to speak about the quality of Cherry Hills as a venue than David. David, please.

DAVID DUVAL: I'm quite excited to be here. I got an inkling of what was cooking a few months ago, and I think, first of all, as a member, I'd like to thank John and George for the work to bring back such an amazing golf tournament, one which I have not played, to Denver, and especially to this club. I think it's a proud club, has a proud history, and I'm fairly confident it'll acquit itself quite well. As a player on the PGA Tour, I think over the course of the last three or four years since The International tournament left our schedule, I get asked no less than 12 or 15 times a year by various players, when are we coming back to Denver and when is another event going to be there, are we going to play The International, are we going to play at Cherry Hills, somewhere. Everybody just wants to come back to Colorado because they've always loved the experience of being here, the weather, the air, the people. It's an amazing, amazing town for golf.

And as soon as I heard it was official that we were coming, I talked to Andy, actually called him up on the telephone and started giving him ideas about this, this and this, and I told him the one thing I'm pretty confident you're going to have to do is limit ticket sales because I feel really, really confident if you don't you could get half of Denver coming out, and I think it's going to make for an amazing week. As a member here I'm excited. I think it's time to get working. Three years is not too far off, two and a half years, and let's make this club proud and this town proud, and I'm here to do, as I've let John Ogden know, as much as I can to help prep for what players look for, what players want, what families need and what kind of golf course they look to compete on. Again, John and George, thank you so much. It's exciting. I live right around the corner here, and to have a golf tournament in your backyard is a really neat thing.

MODERATOR: Thank you, David and the rest of the speakers, for helping us announce this great event. At this time we're happy to take any questions.

Q. Any chance this will be more than a one-year deal?

MODERATOR: The dates in the contract are September 1st through the 7th, 2014. The PGA Tour is currently negotiating their TV contracts, and all of the dates of events in those time periods are somewhat in flux. But that's the date we have contracted with the Tour for. We have a one-year contract with the PGA Tour, so there is no multi-year contract.

Q. John, can you talk a little bit about what makes Cherry Hills special to you as a Denverite and a golfer?

JOHN ELWAY: Well, you should probably be asking David that, not the amateur. The pro is right over here. But coming from the amateur side, I would just say this: That having been a member here since 1989, when you come to play this golf course, you're playing a traditional, old-time golf course that was, I believe, started back in 1922 that is one of those golf courses that you never get tired of playing. You know, it's something that everybody can play it. Obviously with the championships that we've had here, it's been very competitive against the greatest players in the world.

And then from the members' side, it's a golf course that we all love playing day in and day out. You know, it's something that as a member and a club that we've taken pride in, and the bottom line that's what that golf course is about. That's what made us along with our membership the club that we are. We're thrilled to have the Tour here. I think it's obviously -- the players are so great and so good these days, but we're confident that this golf course will hang in there and compete against these guys.

Q. I know in 2005 when the U.S. Women's Open was here, hole No. 18 was changed to a par-4. Will there be any other changes like that anticipated for the championship?

ANDY PAZDER: We intend to play the golf course just as it is on the scorecard today, so we'll play the 18th hole -- I'm sorry, the 18th hole I believe is a par-5 for the members? We'll play it as a par-4, that's correct, but no other changes to the golf course.

Q. David, can this course support the PGA Tour? Is it long enough? I know they've added length to it recently and there's been a lot of talk years ago that it wasn't long enough and it doesn't have the infrastructure. You being the PGA Tour player, is the course long enough to host the Tour?

DAVID DUVAL: Well, the length of it, it will probably be considered a short golf course, but the defense of this golf course is the slope of the fairways, the speed of the fairways, the rough that'll be around the golf course, and then the green complexes themselves, the firmness, the pitch, the slope, the speed. I wish I had in front of me an idea of the winning scores of the past BMW Championships, but I don't think if we get the golf course set up properly and the weather cooperates and it stays firm and fast, I don't think you're going to see anything that's really out of the norm or out of what you might expect for a winning score. Like I said, I think that some of that is going to probably have to start -- John Ogden could answer this better than me because I don't know exactly how mowing patterns have to change, things like that, but some of that is going to have to start probably the season before here, getting the fairway lines changed a little bit, narrowed up, changes maybe possibly on 18 along where typically if you hit it out right the ball will kind of come down but bringing that cut down so that you actually have to challenge the lake, things like that. I think it'll stand up just fine.

MODERATOR: Thank you all for being here this morning, and we are adjourned.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.