In a month from now, all of the big names in professional golf will converge on Jersey City. Name the big time player, he’ll be there.
Tiger Woods? Sure thing. Phil Mickelson? More than likely. Vijay Singh? Most definitely, because he’s the defending tournament champion.
The Barclays Invitational tourney, the first event in the PGA Tour’s Playoff format for the FedEx Cup, will be held at Liberty National in Jersey City Aug. 27-30, the first time that the general public can get a chance to see the majestic upscale private golf club since it opened three years ago.
The Barclays has been a local tourney in recent years, being held in Westchester County for a few years, then moving to Ridgewood in New Jersey last year.
But now, the tourney comes to Jersey City, the first time that Jersey City has hosted a sporting event of this magnitude since the old Waterfront Marathon more than a decade ago.
And the organizers – and even some of the golfers themselves – are excited to be coming to Jersey City.
“I’ve heard it’s a great venue, an unbelievable venue,” said Singh, who spoke to the media via conference call at The Barclays’ media day Tuesday at Liberty National, where members of the media were given the chance to play the course.
“The golf will be tough, because I heard it can be windy there,” said Singh, who won the Barclays last year en route to capturing the FedEx Cup. “I’ve spoken to guys who have played there and said it was an incredible golf course. I will probably go there soon and take a look for myself, because my son is going to school in New York. I’ll get a chance to take a look before I play there.”
Peter Mele is the executive director of The Barclays. He’s overjoyed to bring his tournament to the Jersey City waterfront.
“We’re delighted to be here,” Mele said. “It’s one of the most unique venues in the world. We’re glad to showcase Liberty National to the rest of the world. It’s going to be a spectacular event.”
PGA Tour Executive Vice-President David Pillsbury also was happy to be able to host a tour event in the shadows of the New York skyline.
“We’re really excited to be here in Jersey City,” Pillsbury said. “I know we’re going to have a great tournament. We’re starting to build now into a great crescendo. The playoffs are beginning here. We’ll weed out some of the golfers and eventually end up with a champion. But this is where it will all begin.”
The Barclays is one of four tournaments in part of the PGA Tour’s Playoff format, culminating with the FedEx Cup and the $10 million top prize. There will be a field of the top 125 golfers on the tour to begin the playoffs, with 70 making the cut and then 30 playing for the Tour Championship in October.
“The golfers will be playing here, jockeying for position to get to the finals,” Pillsbury said. “One of the toughest things in golf is to perform well for four straight tournaments. This course will also present a challenge if the wind blows, a really big challenge. I heard the wind does blow often on the water. And from a setting perspective, with these views, there’s not a better place in the world quite like this. It’s going to show well on television, with more than 450 million households around the world watching. It’s going to be quite a show for the world to see. We’re proud to bring the best players in the world to Jersey City.”
Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy was in attendance at the media day, even though his municipality was in mourning over the passing of wounded detective Marc DiNardo earlier in the day.
“This tournament has meaning for the golf community, but it also has great rewards for our community, in terms of business for our hotels, restaurants and small businesses,” Healy said.
Pillsbury said that the “economic impact on Jersey City will be significant,” and estimated that Jersey City’s businesses stand to make anywhere between “$50 and $80 million.”
The city’s non-profit and charitable organizations will also benefit from the tournament. Through Barclays’ “Tickets for Charity” program, more than 150 local charities will receive donations courtesy of Barclays through ticket sales over the four days of the event.
“We’re hoping that we can donate a lot of the money back to the community,” Mele said.
“This is all good,” Healy said. “We have the greatest golfers on earth coming to the greatest golfing venue on earth. We’re going to be able to feature this course and nearby Liberty State Park. We have tremendous hope and optimism and expect it to be a huge success.”
Mele made an announcement at the press gathering.
“On behalf of Barclays, we’ve committed $25,000 to the scholarship fund for Detective DiNardo’s children,” Mele said. “I never met Detective DiNardo, but I have met many of the police officers of Jersey City and they have welcomed us like we’re family. We felt like we had to give something back in their time of need.”
Mele said that he anticipates approximately 25,000 fans coming per day to the Barclays tourney. Which leads to one question: Where will everyone park?
“Although we don’t have a history at this course, I don’t expect it to be a problem,” Mele said. “We have a good plan in place to have spectator parking at the MOTBY in Bayonne and the spectators will take shuttle buses to the course. We will also have people coming via boats from Manhattan. Hopefully, spectators will take advantage of public transportation. Parking is always a concern at golf events, but I think we’re ready for this. We’re going to take a bulk of the traffic and move it 10 minutes away.”
And hope that the fans show an incredible amount of patience in getting to and from the venue.
But Singh is excited about coming to Jersey City.
“The bottom line is the $10 million prize,” Singh said. “That gets everyone excited, the fans, the players, everyone. The fans talk about who is going to make it and who is not. It’s a different kind of format and one that is good for golf. It’s a good concept and I hope it lasts for a long, long time to come.”
And if this event is a success, chances are for a return to Jersey City for the Barclays in 2013. Already the interest is there.
For tickets and other pertinent information, log onto www.thebarclaysgolf.com.
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