Conover pro golf tournament on 2012 schedule

The Greater Hickory Classic tournament on the Pro Golf Association (PGA) Champions Tour will return to Conover and move to the fall in 2012.

The PGA Champions Tour released its 2012 tournament schedule this week, and it includes seven new tournament venues and several date changes for existing tournaments, according to the PGA. The schedule includes the 10th annual Greater Hickory Classic.

"Obviously, getting a date was one huge step in the right direction," said Jim Correll, executive director for the tournament. "The (PGA) Tour has an enormous amount of faith in our nine-year history as one of the best run events on the Tour."

After spending one year with an event date in June, the Classic returns to a fall date, with Rock Barn Golf & Spa playing host Oct. 12-14.

The tournament will award $1.6 million to participants, including $240,000 to the winner.

"The good news is we are on the schedule, we have a great date and we will be back in the fall," Correll said. "That's where we've spent eight of the nine years with the tournament. That will be like coming home, so to speak."

Conover Mayor Lee Moritz said the tournament has a strong impact on the area.

"Having a date is great," Moritz said. "It's one the most favorite tournaments for the players, and over 900 of our citizens volunteer every year for the tournament, so it's really become a great event."
"To have this draw, the largest sport event in western North Carolina, is really a drawing card for the entire western North Carolina area," he continued.

Correll said that the main issue to iron out is finding a sponsor for the event, which hasn't happened since Ensure was the title sponsor for the event in 2010.

"That's what we are spending night and day on," Correll said. "That is the main ingredient to make sure we have a successful event."

Mark Wiebe won the 2011 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn in June, defeating James Mason in a playoff. It marked the first time in tournament history that the event was decided in extra holes.

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