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AT&T Byron Nelson looks to reignite PGA Tour prominence

The PGA Tour AT&T Byron Nelson this year is "looking to buck the tournament's recent trend of underwhelming champions and sparse crowds and the ripple effect that follows," as organizers hope that a full tournament will "once again become the norm for this long-time fixture on the PGA Tour," according to Scott Bell of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. This year's event, which runs from this Thursday to Sunday, is "completely sold out" for the first time since '08. Additional public seating has been added to the par-3 17th hole as the tournament "tries to make that a marquee, stadium-like viewing experience that can be a calling card of the new Nelson venue" at TPC Craig Ranch. This year's field "looks similarly strong to last year's -- and maybe even stronger -- thanks largely to the recent play of locals and Nelson mainstays Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth and Will Zalatoris." Some of golf's biggest names like Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka "will all be playing." It is "hard to dispute the power of positive word-of-mouth reviews on Tour." Those who played in last year's debut at TPC Craig Ranch "enjoyed themselves and let their peers know." The injection of big names "can also be attributed to a recent change on the golf calendar." The PGA Championship moved to May, the week after the A&T Byron Nelson, which has "turned out to be a feature and not a bug for the Nelson, despite worries from many that it would be the opposite" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/10).

MAKING A COMEBACK: In Toronto, Jon McCarthy notes the RBC Canadian Open is returning next month after the last two events were canceled, and it is "looking to build off the momentum it briefly felt in 2019." Golf Canada Chief Commercial Officer John Sibley: "I can't stress enough how excited as an organization we are for the return of the RBC Canadian Open. We are completely sold out of corporate hospitality and VIP product." RBC Exec VP & CMO Mary DePaoli said that the task of getting players to firmly commit to play "began in earnest at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in February." DePaoli: "The first thing we found we had to do was remind them that Canada was open and that the tournament would be happening. ... The fact that Rory McIlroy was coming back to defend was very attractive to the other players, and from there the strength of field is building as expected." McCarthy notes the LIV Golf Invitational Series scheduling its inaugural event in England opposite the RBC Canadian Open "will certainly be a major talking point (if not a distraction) next month." However, DePaoli seemed to have a "clear message" for supporters of that venture. DePaoli: "I am very confident when I say this: Any global golf fan who tunes into the weekend of June 9th through 12th to watch great golf, is going to be watching the RBC Canadian Open" (TORONTO SUN, 5/10).

RED & WHITE BLUES: In DC, John Feinstein wrote when -- or if -- the PGA Tour will return to DC is an "open question," with "no one from the tour giving any indication it is a priority." This is "shocking." Thanks to "myriad mistakes and a lack of care, the next PGA Tour event scheduled for this area is the PGA Championship -- in 2031." PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan "hasn't been able to sell the nation's capital to corporate America." The Tour "goes where the sponsorship money leads," and perhaps the "polarized political climate makes the area inhospitable to corporations." It also "may be that the tour doesn't care all that much about the void here as long as it has a full schedule." Except during the pre-TPC Avenel years and the early Tiger Woods years, the PGA Tour has "treated the D.C. area as a Class AAA town" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/8).

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