If the Utah Showdown Senior PGA golf tournament was a football game, it would be in desperate need of a Hail Mary pass right now. If it was a baseball game, a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth would be required.
The tournament, which has been a regular stop on the Senior Tour for the past 16 years, appears to be on its last legs.Yeah, we've heard that before, but this time it looks serious. No sponsors have committed the necessary financial package to keep the tournament alive, and if no one does by next Tuesday when the Senior Tour executive board meets to finalize next year's schedule, the tournament will be a goner.
"No, we don't have anything," said tournament director Bryan Naugle late Thursday afternoon. "Nobody has stepped up. If we don't have a tournament proposal by Tuesday, they'll move the tournament, no doubt about it."
Naugle knows what he's talking about since he used to work for the Senior Tour before moving to Park City with his family a year ago to become tournament director. He's been working hard for the past 12 months to solidify the tournament but has come up empty, much to his frustration. He knows the Senior Tour has a sponsor waiting in Cleveland to take Utah's spot.
The Senior Tour first came to Utah in 1982 at the Jeremy Ranch when there were only a handful of tournaments being played. The Tour quickly grew into a multimillion-dollar business with escalating purses that forced many longtime events to be removed from the circuit. The Showdown is facing the same fate that befell tournaments in Albuquerque, Denver and Seattle.
The 1998 tournament was pieced together with a variety of sponsors, the most prominent being Clean Shower and Smith's Food and Drug. But the Senior Tour is requiring the tournament to have a solid $6 million proposal to cover the next four years.
Just after the tournament was played in August at Park Meadows Country Club, things were looking bright. An anonymous donor had come forward with a substantial offer of money, and several sponsors showed strong interest.
Naugle said the anonymous donor's offer of $2 million is still good, but that still leaves $4 million the tournament has to come up with in sponsor money.
"I can't believe nobody's stepped up," he said.
While Naugle hasn't given up, he isn't holding much hope, either.
"There's still a possibility," he said. "Am I real optimistic? No."