Originally created 02/09/02

Golf Channel to show local LPGA event



Eight months after the inaugural Asahi Ryokuken International Championship, the second LPGA Tour event at Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club will open to a whole new world.

Tournament director Steve Storm announced Thursday that the tournament, which will be May 16-19, will be televised live by The Golf Channel. The cable channel, which reaches more than 50 million viewers worldwide, will broadcast the event for three hours a day beginning with the first round.

"We're excited about that," Storm said. "In the spring, everything will be in bloom. So it'll be a beautiful setting. It'll be great exposure for the whole area."

The Asahi Ryokuken will be the third event on the tour's Southern swing, starting May 3 with the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship in Stockbridge, Ga. The Asahi Ryokuken will offer a purse of $1.25 million, tied for the seventh-highest purse on the tour in 2002.

Tickets are on sale for the tournament. A Mount Vintage Clubhouse badge, which provides private clubhouse access and includes food and beverages, costs $1,000. A VIP Pavilion badge gives patrons access to the VIP Pavilion tent with television viewing and upscale concessions for $150.

A weekly grounds pass is available for $60, while a daily grounds pass costs $25. Storm said he expects the spring event to have a better turnout than the one in the fall.

The tournament was hurt by the Sept. 11 attacks, when more than 20 golfers withdrew from the event.

"I think we're going to have better ticket sales this year," Storm said. "We were the week after the 11th last year, which really hurt our gate sales. We were also competing against football. People aren't thinking about golf in the fall.

"We're five weeks after the Masters. Golf is on peoples' minds. We think we're going to have some good ticket sales."

Spots in the Mount Vintage Pro-Am are available for $2,500 per player.

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 114.