Big reception might get FedExCup playoffs back to Crooked Stick again

Crooked Stick Golf Club
Getty Images
As many as 75,000 fans turned out for the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick.
By
Michael Marot
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, September 09, 2012 | 11:30 p.m.

CARMEL, Ind. -- The PGA Tour waited 21 years to come back to Crooked Stick.

Judging by the reception, Indiana golf fans might not have to wait that long again.

Even before the BMW Championship ended, tournament organizers were already talking about putting suburban Indianapolis into the rotation to host the tournament again.

"We'd love to come back to Crooked Stick, it's really up to Crooked Stick and if they want to have us back as well," said Vince Pellegrino, the Western Golf Association's vice president of tournaments. "The Indiana golf community has shown it will support a major sporting event, and we'd certainly be interested in coming back in the future."

The WGA won't make that decision by itself. PGA Tour officials and the tournament sponsor would have to sign off on the site, too.

Based on this week's performance it may not be hard to get those approvals.

Pellegrino said he was impressed by the corporate support for the tourney and local fans ignored the heavy rain, soggy grass and stinky mud. They have shown up in droves. Saturday's crowd was estimated to be about 35,000, and Pellegrino expects the four-day total to jump to about 75,000.

Players have enjoyed playing on the course's soft greens and the roar of the large crowds that have made the tournament feel like a major, too.

"I've heard a lot of players talking about the crowds that have come out and they say it's a neat town. It is," said Indiana native Bo Van Pelt. "Hopefully, we'll get it back on the schedule."

How soon could it happen?

Next year's BMW Championship is already scheduled to be played at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Ill., near the tourney's traditional Chicago home. In 2014, the tournament will be played at Cherry Hills in Colorado. The sponsorship deal expires after the 2014 season, and until that is finalized, organizers are unlikely to start picking future sites.

"The corporate support has been great in Chicago, great for a long time, but we've had a lot more people show up here than we've had in recent years in Chicago," Pellegrino said. "The locals into golf here said this would be big, but till you see it in person, you're not really sure."

The only real issue has been weather.

Heavy rain Wednesday prompted tour officials to allow players to clean their golf balls in the fairway, and after nearly three inches of rain was recorded Friday night when severe weather moved through the area, players were given the same benefit Saturday.

Fans spent much of the day walking through swampy grounds.

"There's nothing you can do about weather," Pellegrino said. "Just make the appropriate adjustments and we've done that."