Hawaii to host PGA events

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Hawaii will have two PGA tour events next year.

Kapalua, the 1,650-acre West Maui resort, will host the Mercedes Championships, the tour's season opener. It will be held Jan. 4 to 10 at the resort's Plantation Course.

The Mercedes will be followed on Oahu by the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club, Jan. 14 to 17.

Sony replaces United Airlines as sponsor of the tournament. The airline ended its sponsorship of what was the long-running United Airlines Hawaiian Open. The Mercedes previously was held at La Costa, Calif.

There will be pro-am events through Jan. 6, with the tournament held Jan. 7 through 10. The tournament will have a $2.6 million purse, with the winner taking home $468,000. The event will be televised live on ESPN.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for us to showcase the course to the world's best golfers," said Peter Sanborn, Kapalua's vice president, marketing. He noted that it was rare for a PGA sponsor to move an event to a new site.

Major improvements, including the reshaping of three greens, have been made to the course.

The Mercedes replaces the Lincoln-Mercury Invitational as Kapalua's major annual tournament. The Lincoln-Mercury, an unofficial preseason event held in November, was last held in 1997.

Kapalua has three 18-hole courses, two hotels (Kapalua Bay Hotel and Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua), condominiums, shopping and tennis facilities.

For further information, call the resort at (800) KAPALUA. Mercedes tickets can be ordered through the Connection, a Hawaii firm, at (800) 333-3388.

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