| Roger Sloan, with the Western Championship trophy.|
(Kamloops Daily News file photo)
Daily News Sports Editor
It appears that the inaugural Western Championship golf tournament also was the last one.
The inability to procure sponsorship has resulted in the tournament being dropped from the Canadian Tour’s schedule.
Terry Grimm, who chaired the 2011 Western Championship, said Tuesday that he informed Rick Janes, the Tour’s commissioner and CEO, in December, “offering our regrets.”
“We were unable to (raise) sufficient sponsorship dollars to carry on with the Western here,” Grimm said.
The Western Championship was held June 9-12 at Rivershore Estates and Golf Links. It provided a great story line as Roger Sloan of Merritt won the tournament, firing a four-round total of 23-under 265 at Rivershore Estates and Golf Links. Sloan took home $20,000 for the first victory of his professional career.
“I heard the unfortunate news,” Sloan said Wednesday from Houston, where is preparing for a new season. “It’s disappointing.
“The Canadian Tour is struggling and the more tournaments the better. Having a tournament so close to home on a course that I really enjoy playing and found so much local suport on . . . it’s a total bummer not to be going back.”
Hoping to gain a foothold in B.C.’s Interior, the Tour sponsored the 2011 Western Championship, including the $125,000 purse. In order to stay on the schedule, sponsorship would have had to cover a $300,000 budget.
“They’re recommending from the tour office,” Grimm said, “and I don’t disagree with them, I think they’re pretty close . . . they recommend a $300,000 budget to run the event.”
That $300,000 sponsorship would cover a $150,000 purse and all expenses associated with playing host to the event.
Grimm said local organizers were never close to finding a title sponsor.
“We had a nibble,” he said, “but only for a portion of it. We were never in the ballpark for ($300,000).”
When he informed Janes that Kamloops wouldn’t be able to play host to a second Western Championship, Grimm did ask that the door be left open.
“We really enjoyed it,” Grimm said of the 2011 event. “We’ve asked them to keep us in mind and if the economy turns out here and we (find) somebody who’s interested (in sponsoring it) we’ll look at it down the road.”
The Canadian leg of the 2012 Tour will begin with the Times Colonist Islands Savings Open in Victoria, June 7-10, but now there is a one-week gap before it resumes with with the ATB Financial Classic in Edmonton, June 21-24.
“The Canadian Tour is struggling to fill a lot of gaps and they’re doing the best job they can,” Sloan said. “But it’s the economy and all the whirlwind things that come together.