The LPGA Safeway International, which drew a record crowd estimated at 105,800 spectators for the week, apparently has a long-term future at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club, two key organizers said Sunday.
But there is a small change coming for next year, added Tom Maletis, the president of the Tournament Golf Foundation, which manages the event.
"Chances are there will be a date change, as we’re contemplating moving the tournament back one week,’’ Maletis said. "In 2006, the Kraft Nabisco Championship is moving back one week on the calendar, and we like that fit, of coming the week before a major championship.’’
Maletis also said he and Superstition Mountain principles Lyle Anderson and Mark Kizziar will meet "within the next two months’’ to possibly iron out an extension of the three-year contract the tournament has with the golf course, which ends next year.
"We’re happy, the LPGA is happy, Superstition Mountain is happy, and the players are happy,’’ Maletis said. "I foresee no problems staying here beyond next year.’’
Anderson, the Scottsdale-based developer who owns Superstition Mountain, was even more emphatic about the future of the event.
"I have talked with Tom, and basically, I am very open to a long-term deal,’’ Anderson said. "Even though (Superstition Mountain) will probably be built out (homewise and membership-wise) in the next three to four years, that’s not our only motive behind having the tournament here, although it’s obviously a benefit to selling real estate.’’
Anderson cited the strong participation from the East Valley community, the charity (the Banner Health Foundation) and the club, which he said takes great pride in hosting the event.
"And the LPGA, it’s hot, with a great future,’’ said Anderson. "It’s young, it’s exciting and it’s truly a worldwide tour. (The LPGA’s) future is so bright, we’d like to be part of that for a long, long time.’’
The tournament drew an estimated 90,000 fans last year, and bumped that up by more than 15,000 this year despite a cold and rainy Saturday in which only 15,300 fans turned out.
"It’s just turned out to be a perfect fit,’’ said Maletis.