Wow, time does fly by. I vividly remember the press conferences leading up to the inaugural event. I also remember sitting behind the 16th green for final round action of that first event and watching countless golfers head to 17 in disgust. After struggling on that hole, Billy Andrade actually said something to the effect of “The 12th at Augusta’s got nothing on this hole,” comparing the famed tough hole at the Masters to a similar hole at Montreux.
That may not seem like yesterday, but it doesn’t feel that long ago, certainly not a decade ago.
It’s a tribute to Montreux members, tournament officials and the PGA Tour that northern Nevada has continued to host a successful tournament every August for 11 straight years. I sat through more than one press conference with RTO officials spelling the tournament’s doom if a title sponsor could not be found. There were indeed a few RTO media day golf outings where a tournament director said he didn’t believe the event could continue to sustain itself without better sponsorship.
It did manage just that and the 2008 and 2009 events have been helped by the sponsorship of the Legends, the new upscale shopping center near the Sparks Marina.
The RTO was really Reno’s only professional sports venture until the NBA’s D-League dropped a franchise into the Truckee Meadows and the Reno Aces AAA baseball club followed suit.
One of the few knocks on the RTO is that it has been forced to share its August date with a World Golf Championship event. That has always kept the PGA Tour’s top pros from playing in Reno. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and many of the tour’s other leading money winners have never competed in the RTO.
Considering Montreux has received rave reviews as a tournament host and the RTO has continued to survive without the lavish sponsor ship of other PGA Tour stops, it makes me wonder, how successful could the event be if it did not conflict with the WGC’s late summer event?
It would be fun to find out. Certainly golf fans across northern Nevada and northern California would flock to the Truckee Meadows see the likes of Tiger, Phil and other PGA headliners. Tournament attendance might double.
While that’s a nice dream we hope to see come true in the future, we should also appreciate we have. The RTO is a great event. We should not take it for granted. In the current economy, you never know how long events that rely on sponsorship will last. In addition, Montreux members will soon vote again on whether or not they want to continue to host the event and, for intents and purposes, give up their course for two weeks every summer.
Hopefully, this week’s RTO gives a unique story and a likable, personable group of leaders.
Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s sports editor. He can be reached via email at deckles@