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BEN HOGAN TOUR WON'T BE RETURNING TO WESTERN NEW YORK IN 1991 SEASON

The Ben Hogan Tour will not be coming back to Buffalo this summer.

Local organizers of the event could not find a charity to serve as principal sponsor for the tournament by a deadline set by the PGA.

The Hogan Tour, golf's "Triple A league," was started last year by the PGA and made a stop at Hamburg's Brierwood Country Club on July 20-22.

The event was conducted without a principal sponsor, and the tournament lost about $30,000, according to Bill Dimas, executive director of the Western New York Section of the Professional Golf Association.

The WNY PGA Section, which ran last year's event, decided it needed to find a charity to run the event to put it in the black.

"Somebody could make a good profit for a charity," Dimas said. "I could see where a charity could make $50,000 to $100,000 on this event if the business people got behind it, which I feel they would do.

"Business people would rather write a check to a charity than write one to the Western New York PGA section."

Dimas said the Western New York PGA was not able to find enough sponsors and was not able to sell enough spots in the pro-am tournament before last summer's event to cover the approximately $100,000 in expenses.

The $100,000 purse for each of the 30 Hogan events nationwide is covered by the Ben Hogan Co.

"Looking back, we did get a late start on it, and that was a factor," Dimas said.

"I can't tell you how many businesses said to us, 'Thank you very much, we're interested, but we've already committed our budgets for 1990. Call back next year,' " he said.

The Western New York PGA is in the process of calling back, and Dimas said he has received positive responses.

However, no deal could be finalized by a Dec. 13 deadline set by the PGA. The Western New York PGA is one of 41 separate sections within the PGA.

As a result, the PGA gave Buffalo's spot on the tour to Tacoma, Wash., which had its economic package all wrapped up.

"We were so close," Dimas said.

"We had several letters of intent from charities, but could not finalize a contract."

Dimas said he is very hopeful the Western New York PGA will get a commitment to run the event from a charity or a group of charities. And he thinks Buffalo stands a good chance of getting the tournament back for 1992.

"We're No. 1 in line, and all 30 events are not going to go off again in '92, I would think," he said. "Their letter (from the PGA) said they sincerely look forward to us getting together in '92."

A field of 132 competed in the event at Brierwood. Dimas said aside from the financial aspect, the PGA tour was happy with the way the event was run and received.

The Hogan Tour was started to provide an opportunity for professional golfers trying to reach the PGA Tour to hone their skills. The majority of golfers on the tour are young players recently out of college trying to hone improve their game and gain experience. However, there also are a good number of players in their 30s as well as those in their 40s sharpening their game for a run at the lucrative PGA Senior Tour.

WNY shut out in 'Q-School'

Western New York's aspiring PGA Tour pros are back working on their games this year after failing to get their tour cards in the October-November PGA Qualifying School.

Marilla's E.J. Pfister left this week to play in Asia for the third year in a row. The former NCAA champion from Oklahoma State will play in Australia for five weeks, then go to Hong Kong and hook up with other Asian Tour events over the next several months.

He and Orchard Park's Tim Straub made it through the first of the three stages of the PGA Q-School, but did not make it past the second stage event at Jones Creek, Ga.

Straub, the former Wake Forest star, is spending the winter in Orlando, Fla., and competing on several of the Florida mini-tours.

Lackawanna's Mark Balen fell just one shot shy of advancing to the third and final stage of the Q-School.

Nielsen gets 10th club pro win

Lonnie Nielsen recently became the all-time victory leader in the Founders Club PGA Tournament Series, the Florida winter tour for club professionals across the country.

The pro at East Aurora's Crag Burn Club claimed his 10th victory on the tour by shooting a 4-under 140 total in an event at Port St. Lucie, Fla. Nielsen earned $3,000. He won five events on the club pro tour in the 1985-86 winter season. He won three in 1986-87 and one in 1988.

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