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Despite lack of title sponsor, PGA Tour will remain at Innisbrook in 2013

Luke Donald holds aloft the trophy from last year’s tourney, looking for a title sponsor since Transitions bowed out.

JOSEPH GARNETT JR. | Times

Luke Donald holds aloft the trophy from last year’s tourney, looking for a title sponsor since Transitions bowed out.

Despite the lack of a title sponsor, the PGA Tour will remain at Innisbrook in 2013.

The PGA is expected to release its 2013 schedule in the next few days, and the newly named Tampa Bay Championship will be played March 11-17, the same spot it has occupied since becoming part of the Florida Swing in 2007.

"We will be on the 2013 schedule," Tampa Bay Championship tournament director Kevin Krisle said. "We are still actively seeking a title sponsor, and the economic times haven't really changed. But the PGA Tour has a good track record and we're confident we can find a title sponsor for the years to come."

For the past four years, the tournament was called the Transitions Championship. But the Pinellas Park optical company decided not to renew its contract after the 2012 tournament. For the past year PGA officials and members of the Copperheads, who oversee the Palm Harbor tournament, have been trying to secure a title sponsor.

It is unclear what would happen to the tournament past 2013 if a title sponsor isn't secured. PGA official Chris Smith said the Tour would have no comment until the schedule is officially released.

"We were confident that we would be on it," Krisle said. "The players and the PGA like coming down here. We obviously want to be here for many more years to come."

The PGA Tour will cover any costs of the tournament for 2013 that aren't covered by sponsors. This is not the first time the tournament has been played without a title sponsor.

The tournament began in 2000 as the Tampa Bay Classic. In 2007, PODS came on board late as a title sponsor. Transitions Optical took over in June of 2008 as the title sponsor.

Luke Donald is the tournament's defending champion.

PUTTER CHANGE: U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson isn't worried about a potential rule change that would ban long putters, but that doesn't mean he agrees with it, saying larger drivers have affected golf more than putters anchored to the body.

The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club are discussing a possible change to the rules of golf that would keep players from anchoring the putter to their body, such as the belly or chest for broom-style putters.

"I'm friends with a lot of the R&A guys and the USGA guys. It's nothing personal and I know they are trying to do it for the betterment of the game," Simpson said. "But I don't think it's a good decision."

Simpson said a new putting statistic, "strokes gained," shows no discernible advantage for players using long putters.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Despite lack of title sponsor, PGA Tour will remain at Innisbrook in 2013 10/22/12 [Last modified: Monday, October 22, 2012 9:52pm]
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