Houston Astros owner Jim Crane is heading up a group of investors in an effort to keep the Houston Open on the PGA Tour schedule, according to a Houston Chronicle report.
Played annually since 1946, the tournament is currently without both a title sponsor and a venue. Shell Oil company ended their longtime title sponsorship in 2017, and this spring the tournament was played without a sponsor. A few weeks ago the Golf Club of Houston informed the Houston Golf Association that it was no longer interested in hosting the event.
According to the report, the HGA had until Friday to secure a sponsor for 2019 and was unable to do so. As a result, Crane submitted a proposal to the PGA Tour whereby he and a group of 10-12 “local investors” would fund the event, with or without the help of the HGA.
While the tournament has been played the week before the Masters for the past decade, Crane’s proposal would reportedly call for the tournament to move to the fall portion of the revamped Tour schedule beginning in October 2019. The event would return to the Golf Club of Houston for at least two years, with a potential move to Memorial Park in 2021 which is within Houston city limits and hosted the event from 1951-63.
The Tour has already confirmed that the Valero Texas Open will receive the pre-Masters date when the schedule for the 2018-19 season is unveiled.
The report describes a “wide rift” that has developed between Crane and HGA officials, but it’s one that Crane downplays as he looks to keep a long-running event alive in one of the nation’s biggest markets.
“They hadn’t been able to pull together a deal, so I got on it,” Crane said. “(The HGA has) a pretty big budget, and I don’t think you need that big of a budget to put on a golf tournament.”