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Shrader was equally frustrated in his quest for a preferred date. Shrader wanted the week before the U.S. Open every year, if possible. "One thing we learned in 2004 was that the week after the Open doesn't work here," he says. " Washington is one of those towns where, once the kids are out of school, everybody goes somewhere else and this place shuts down. The Tour said, 'Hey, get in line. A lot of people want to play that [pre-Open] week.'"
But six months before the '05 Classic, Shrader says he got a letter from Finchem. According to Shrader, "[Finchem] said, 'We haven't finalized the schedule, but I'm confident in assuring you that you can have your tournament before the Open three out of four years. Two of those years would be the week before the Open, the third year would probably be another date sometime before the Open, but the fourth year would have to be the week after. We are well aware of your concerns, and we are going forward with our plans for the course.'"
Shrader says he had several conversations with the Tour in succeeding weeks and met with Tour execs during the Presidents Cup in September. Another session was scheduled for two weeks later but was canceled by the Tour. Shrader says he received a subsequent letter from the Tour saying, "Give us another 30 days." Says Shrader, "The next conversation I had was on a Friday morning in January when [Finchem] called two hours before the FedEx Cup and the 2007 schedule was announced. He said, 'We've decided to move your tournament to the fall.' I was surprised, obviously. It was totally different than anything I'd been presented."
The date that Shrader had wanted was lost when FedEx poured $40 million into the FedEx Cup--a seasonlong points race culminating in a four-tournament championship series in September--and dropped sponsorship of the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis. As part of that deal the new Stanford St. Jude Championship was given the pre-Open date.
Shrader turned down the fall spot on the schedule. "I don't like it when anybody tries to imply that we were hard-nosed about our position and left no room for flexibility," he says. "I had an assurance about something that, if it had been the final offer, we'd have looked at it pretty hard to make it work."
Booz Allen Hamilton will kick in $1 million to support a post-- FedEx Cup tournament in October '07, if one is held, but is out as title sponsor. The Tour says it is looking for a replacement, but finding people willing to put up $8 million to $10 million a year to sponsor an event that's likely to have a weak field and will be shown exclusively on the Golf Channel is no easy task. As for Avenel, Finchem said last week that an $18 million to $20 million renovation will occur at an undetermined future date.
As a final indignity, the '06 Booz Allen went out with a whimper. Heavy rain delayed and eventually forced the suspension of the final round, and after more bad weather disrupted play on Monday, the Tour decided to try again on Tuesday. When play was halted on Monday evening Curtis, whose group had made it all the way to the 71st green, was an impressive 21 under par and seven shots ahead of four players tied for second. During one of the many delays, a reporter standing near the quiet clubhouse said, "This feels like a wake."
That's exactly what it was. R.I.P, golf in D.C.