CLEVELAND — The Web.com Tour added a new event to its lineup of 2014 tournaments with the announcement of the Cleveland Open, marking the return of professional golf to Cleveland, where the PGA TOUR first held a tournament in 1938. The event will be played June 2-8 at Lakewood Country Club in the west Cleveland suburb of Westlake. The PGA TOUR and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission have entered into a three-year agreement.
The Cleveland Open will feature a field of 156 golfers competing over 72 holes of stroke play for a purse of $600,000. Lakewood Country Club is a 7,022-yard par-71 layout designed by the renowned golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast. Opened in 1921, Lakewood is the only original Tillinghast design in the state of Ohio.
A Pro-Am will be played at Lakewood Country Club on Wednesday, June 4th.
All four rounds of the Cleveland Open will be televised in the U.S. on Golf Channel, which is available in 84 million homes. The tournament will also be distributed in 186 countries and territories, including Japan, Korea and parts of Latin America and Europe.
The Cleveland Open will be hosted and organized by the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, in partnership with Milestone Sports Management of Westlake, Ohio.
Tournament proceeds will be earmarked for a number of charitable entities in the Cleveland area, including The First Tee of Cleveland.
Hyundai and Rust-Oleum have come on board as Founding Partners for professional golf’s return to Cleveland.
“We are very excited about the Web.com Tour’s future in Cleveland and our partnership with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, which has been responsible for attracting and promoting so many successful sporting events in the greater Cleveland area since 2000,” said Web.com Tour president Bill Calfee. “Lakewood Country Club is going to be a terrific host facility and we believe its golf course will quickly become a favorite among Tour players. With so many enthusiastic golfers and golf fans, we look forward to bringing the world-class talents of Web.com Tour players to Cleveland next June as the pursuit of the 50 available PGA TOUR cards heats up.
“A critical element to the success of the Cleveland Open and its impact on The First Tee of Cleveland will be the engagement of the Cleveland business community,” Calfee added. “We encourage businesses, both large and small, to consider supporting the tournament via the various levels of sponsorship available through Milestone Sports Management.”
“Bringing professional golf back to Cleveland will provide a significant boost to the local economy and add another premier sporting event to the Northeast Ohio landscape,” said Greater Cleveland Sports Commission president and CEO David Gilbert.
“Cleveland is the perfect location for the Web.com Tour,” said Ben Cooke, executive director of the Cleveland Open and Milestone Sports Management. “With Cleveland’s recent revival and proud sports fans, we feel like the Cleveland community will rally around a premier golf event like this. The tournament will weave in so many of the unique features of Cleveland; the players and spectators are going to love it.”
The PGA TOUR first played in Cleveland in 1938, when Ky Laffoon defeated Sam Snead by one shot in the first Cleveland Open. After a 25-year hiatus, the Cleveland Open returned in 1963 when Arnold Palmer defeated Tommy Aaron and Tony Lema in a playoff. This would begin the run of 10 straight events played at five different golf courses through 1972. The list of winners included other major champions Lema (1964), Dave Stockton (1968), Charles Coody (1969) and David Graham (1972). Lakewood Country Club played host to Stockton’s win in 1968 as well as R.H. Sikes’ 1966 win.
Prior to the 2014 Cleveland Open, the Web.com Tour played 14 tournaments at two Cleveland-area venues, Quail Hollow Country Club in Concord (1990-2001) and StoneWater Golf Club in Highland Heights (2005-2007), with Australian and now Dublin, Ohio-based Jason Day becoming the Web.com Tour’s youngest winner at age 19 years, seven months and 26 days in ’07.
Reigning PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner is a native of Cleveland who made 123 Web.com Tour starts between 2001 and 2008, winning events in Wichita (2001) and Chicago (2006). Dufner graduated twice from the Web.com Tour to the PGA TOUR, in 2003 and 2006. In two Web.com Tour starts in his hometown, he finished T11 in 2005 and missed the cut in 2006.
Alumni of the Web.com Tour have now won 368 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, including 18 major championships, with Dufner the most recent winner of a major. Three out of four PGA TOUR members are Web.com Tour alums.
The Cleveland Open will implement a charity ticket program in which local non-profit organizations will sell tournament tickets and ticket packages, keeping 100% of the ticket sales revenue for their organization. The event will center on benefitting a number of children-focused charities in the city of Cleveland. The Cleveland Open will provide an estimated economic benefit to the local economy of $6-8 million annually.
The official 2014 Web.com Tour tournament schedule will be announced in the near future.