For much of the week, there has been a death watch of sorts hanging over the Utah Showdown golf tournament.
Would this be the final Showdown, the last time the Senior Tour would come to Utah?Now in its 17th year, the Showdown - one of the longest-running senior tournaments - has been subject to much speculation about its future. First-year tournament director Bryan Naugle has acknowledged that the tournament must come up with a four-year commitment by the end of this month to be included on next year's Senior PGA Tour schedule.
Yet as Naugle watched the final group come up the 18th fairway Saturday afternoon, he was all smiles as he talked about this year's tournament and the future.
"Things are going real well," he said. "We've got a great lea-der-board, and the weather's been good."
As for the future of the tournament, Naugle preferred not to go into many details but said, "I'm real optimistic."
While Naugle isn't ready to make any announcements, he indicated the tournament would likely sign a four-year deal later this month, which will take the tournament past the 2002 Olympics. He said the purse would rise from $1 million to $1.2 million next year and to $1.3 million the following year.
Sources close to the tournament say that Smith's and Clean Shower, the two main sponsors of this year's event, will stay involved and that an anonymous donor will put up a large chunk of the $5 million needed for a four-year deal.
Most senior golfers have had great things to say about the tournament and how they want to keep it on the schedule. Nobody has been a better promoter than two-time champion Dave Stockton.
"It's a first-class event and the beauty here is surpassed only by the hospitality," he said. "Those of us who come up here really have a great time."
BRUCE WATCH: Local favorite Bruce Summerhays rebounded from a sub-par performance in the opening round to a more typical round of 69 Saturday.
Summerhays had a hot stretch on his front nine with birdies at 5, 6, 8 and 9 to make the turn at 3-under for the day. He made three birdies on the back nine but also had three bogeys, including one at 18, which left him with his 3-under total.
"I played better today," he said. "Yesterday I was hitting everything right, so I just aimed it left and hit more fairways and greens.
Summerhays moved up from a tie for 66th place to a tie for 51st. He'll tee off at 10:20 a.m. today.
COODY WINS: Charles Coody finally got his Senior tournament win in Utah.
Coody, who had the most famous collapse in tournament history when he finished double bogey-triple bogey to lose to Dale Douglass in the 1991 Showdown, was the winner of the MasterCard Champions tournament-within-a-tournament for golfers over age 60.
Coody shot a 73 on Friday and followed with a 68 on Saturday to finish at 141, one shot ahead of Bruce Crampton, who led after the first day. Crampton was tied with Coody until he bogeyed No. 16.
"The MasterCard event is a nice thing for the 60-year-olds," said Coody, who pocketed $18,000 with the win. "My win today recouped about what I lost in the stock market this week."
SHOWDOWN NOTES: Johnny Bench said he was still having fun, but he wasn't happy with his second consecutive 78. After getting rid of the butterflies Friday, Bench had hoped to improve his score in the second round . . . In an effort to find a cure for prostate cancer, the Senior PGA Tour is sponsoring the Senior PGA Tour for the Cure, where people can pledge money for every birdie made by their favorite players. So far $2.2 million has been raised for program . . . The course played easier on Saturday - 20 golfers broke 70, while only seven golfers broke 70 on Friday . . . Isao Aoki, one of the Tour's better putters, four-putted No. 4 Saturday.