The city's PGA Tour Canada event will have a name familiar with local and national hockey audiences alike.
Members of the organizing committee made quite a splash Monday, announcing at a news conference that the Staal Family Foundation is officially the title sponsor of Thunder Bay’s stop on the PGA Tour Canada schedule.
The first annual Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel will be held at the Whitewater Golf Club with activities kicking off on July 14. The sponsorship is for $100,000 per year for the next three years.
Tournament executive director Scott Smith said having sponsorship with the family was something he had never even considered until a discussion over a round of golf with the Staal father, Henry Staal.
“I think the most exciting thing we could do is have the Staals be involved with this event,” Smith said.
“Actually, until I golfed with Henry one day I didn’t realize anything about the foundation and once we started to have that talk I realized it was a match made in heaven.”
Eric and Jordan Staal, teammates on the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, joined the conference via a Skype call from North Carolina.
They feel putting their name on a marquee event is the perfect opportunity to kickstart the foundation.
“It’s been a long process trying to put it all together but we felt it was a great opportunity to launch it and grow it,” Eric Staal said.
“We’re in for the long haul and hope to continue to grow our foundation so it’s able to continue to do that.”
Smith said supporting local charities is an important part of the tournament’s mandate and that the sponsorship funds will go to those organizations.
Both sides agreed coming together was an optimal way to maximize both of their new ventures and get them off the ground.
Organizers anticipate all of the brothers, including Marc and Jared, will take on prominent roles during the week of the tournament and that will help lead to strong engagement throughout the community.
While it’s still early in the planning stages, Smith is hopeful the involvement of the Staals and their connection to many other hockey figures can be a valuable enhancement to the tournament's pro-am events.
This year’s PGA Tour Canada schedule consists of 12 events and the Thunder Bay date falls at a key time. After that tournament, the top three players on the tour’s cumulative Order of Merit earn exemptions into the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open.
At the end of the season the top five players on the Order of Merit graduate to the Web.com Tour, which effectively serves as the minor league for the PGA Tour.
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