BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic tees off on Friday morning at Fallen Oak, but the tournament's future is up in the air.
Tom Lehman is no stranger to the tournament. He claimed the 2011 championship, loves coming to South Mississippi every year because it reminds him of one of his first professional victories that came in 1991 at Windance.
Now, Fallen Oak has become one of his favorite courses.
"I enjoy the course more than anything," said the 10-time PGA Champions Tour tournament winner. "I think it's a course that's well suited to my game, and I enjoy the people that are so friendly. That's the two things that I love."
But, Lehman isn't sure if he'll be able to come back next year. The tournament's title sponsor C-Spire won't be backing the event going forward.
"We need a title sponsor to keep this thing going," said tournament director Steve Nieman.
Over the next few days, tournament director Steven Nieman and his staff will be recruiting a new title sponsor. Three prospects are going to be checking out the lay of the land.
"It's too important to our economic impact on this state, as well as on the Coast. Too important to many local charities with the money that's donated back to so many charities on the Coast," Nieman said. "So hopefully we can continue to get people's attention. We got their attention enough to be able to come out and they want to see it."
For players like Lehman and others on the Champions Tour, it's a stop they don't want to see go away.
"If we lose this tournament, we'll be losing one of the top three or four courses we play all year," Lehman.
While the players have their sights set on a trophy to be given out on Sunday, Nieman is focused on keeping the tournament alive.
"We're going to go down with a great fight," Nieman said. "We think we'll be okay in the future, but only a few days will tell that story."
C-Spire has been the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic presenting sponsor for the last four years.
More information on the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and the tournament ca be found here: http://2017mgrc.com/.