St. Jude Classic still searching for sponsor

It’s officially football season.

For pigskin fans, it couldn’t come soon enough. But it also marks tournament director Phil Cannon’s self-imposed deadline to have a title sponsor secured for next year’s St. Jude Classic. In a telephone conversation, he conceded the goal wouldn’t be achieved by his target date of Sept. 15.

“We have some very interested parties looking at the event and talking to the PGA Tour,” Cannon said. “We still feel good about things and have been given indications from the Tour that things are moving along nicely.”

Tom Wade, the Tour’s chief marketing officer, added, “We’ve had some positive discussions but nothing is imminent.”

For the past two years, the PGA Tour has permitted the event to break its title-sponsorship mold. This year, tournament organizers pieced together a consortium of eight companies.

“I don’t want to have to go ask for special dispensation a third time,” Cannon had said during tournament week.

But that may be the best opportunity for the tournament, the third-oldest event on Tour, to survive.

“If we have to put together a consortium again, all indications are that we can do that but we certainly don’t prefer that model,” Cannon said. “The Tour is bending over backwards to try to keep professional golf in Memphis, and we’re certainly thankful for their support.”

Cannon said he’s been told the Tour has the St. Jude Classic penciled in for “approximately the same date” in June in next year’s schedule. So far, nobody from the Tour has given Cannon a firm deadline when a sponsor must be in place – or when the plug will be pulled.

“There’s no hard and fast rules,” he said. “The only rules are that we want to work hard and do it fast.”

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