Turning Stone angling for better dates

Bill Lunde won the Turning Stone Resort Championship on Aug. 8.

Bill Lunde won the Turning Stone Resort Championship on Aug. 8.

The jockeying for position on next year’s PGA Tour calendar continues.

Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter deemed last week’s Turning Stone Resort Championship a success, but he still holds out hope for a permanent summer spot in the schedule that might attract more top players to the event.

“We’re still having discussions with the PGA (Tour),” Halbritter told the Syracuse Post-Standard Sunday. “In the next few weeks I’m sure we’ll come to some determination. . . . We’re hoping we can have our own date, not an encumbered date. But obviously there’s only so many dates and everybody would love to be part of the calendar.”

Where else could Turning Stone fit in the future?

Its window is limited due to Central New York’s unpredictable spring and fall weather. So grabbing the Verizon Heritage’s post-Masters date, should that tournament fold, seems unlikely. A better option: The St. Jude Classic’s pre-U.S. Open June date could become available if that tournament fails to land a title sponsor.

Another possibility: Wyndham Hotel’s 4-year deal title sponsorship ends this year, which could jeopardize the future of The Wyndham Championship, the final FedEx Cup regular season event, in mid-August. Discussions are ongoing and “things look positive,” a tournament spokesman said.

Then there’s speculation of other potential schedule changes that could create a domino effect and result in a new date for Turning Stone. Deutsche Bank is mulling over an option to extend its deal as title sponsor of its Labor Day weekend FedEx Cup playoff event another two years, through 2012.

“I like our chances to stay involved,” said Seth Waugh, CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, during the tournament’s media day last week. “I hope we’ll be able to talk at Labor Day about keeping the tour in New England for years to come.”

But if they don’t, it’s possible The Travelers Championship could make a bid for that playoff date.

“When we were looking at extending, (the tour) asked us if a playoff event became available, would we be interested in discussing it,” Travelers tournament director Nathan Grube told the New Haven Register. “We talked at length quite a bit about it. . . . There is a lot of speculation at this point. I cannot speak for Deutsche Bank.”

If such juggling occurs, then perhaps Turning Stone could slip into the post-U.S. Open date now occupied by The Travelers Championship.

Halbritter faces challenges with Turning Stone’s current date. For its first three years, the tournament was the big fish in the small pond that is the Tour’s Fall Series. It offered a $6 million purse, which was larger than several FedEx Cup events.

But this year, though it moved to a most pleasant summer date it long desired, Turning Stone was contested as an opposite-field event against the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Furthermore, the event’s purse dipped to $4 million – making it look less attractive, especially surrounded by more lucrative tournaments.

When asked why he played the Greenbrier Classic, Pat Perez explained it was simply a matter of economics.

“The purse,” he said of the Greenbrier’s $6 million in prize money. “I was gonna go to Turning Stone because I thought that was still 6 (million dollars). It’s not.”

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