PGA's Champions Tour headed to south Mississippi

By Jeff Lawson - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The PGA's Champions Tour is coming to the Mississippi Coast for the first time. The official announcement was made Tuesday afternoon at Beau Rivage.

The Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic will be held at the casino's acclaimed Fallen Oak Golf Course April 26th through May 2nd.

"Our goal is to be the premier event on the Champions Tour," Anthony Topazi told the crowd gathered for the news conference.

Topazi leads the Mississippi Gulf Coast Business Council, which was the driving force behind bringing the tournament to South Mississippi. It will be one of 26 stops on the Champions Tour.

Most events on the tour have a sole sponsor, but that will not be the case with the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic. Instead, 13 businesses in South Mississippi have formed a consortium to sponsor the tournament. That list includes most of the coast casinos.

Two of the top players on the Champions Tour were on hand for the news conference. Hal Sutton is a Louisiana resident who won the PGA tournament in 1983. Loren Roberts was this year's winner of the tour's Charles Schwab Cup.

"We know this is going to be the best tournament on the Champions tour because of the location and the enthusiasm you have," Roberts said.

Some of the players who may come here include not only Roberts and Sutton, but also Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Jay Haas. The Bruno's corporation, a grocery chain out of Birmingham, will have its events team run the tournament. That group has been running a similar Champion's tour event in Birmingham for nearly two decades.

For golf fans in South Mississippi, this is a big deal. But the Business Council's Anthony Topazi wants everybody to know that this event is about much more than golf.

"We may have been hit by the nation's worst disaster, but we are open for business," Topazi said. "In fact, we are back better than ever and we want the world to know it."

Topazi is confident this tournament is another key component in the goal to eventually make the coast a tier one tourism destination.

The Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic has a commitment from the tour to be here for at least the next three years.

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