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July tee time is back to the basics

The Viking Classic will return to its summer roots this year, with a tee time in July instead of late September.

That could be good news and bad news.

The good news: The Golf Channel will televise the tournament live, instead of on tape-delay.

The bad news: The Viking will compete with the British Open for players and viewers.

Tournament executive director Randy Watkins is optimistic the change will do more good than bad, though.

“We think it’s going to help us media-wise,” he said. “One, we’re not going up against football or hunting season or any of the other roadblocks that get us in the fall. In the summer, the sports media around here are largely unoccupied compared to the fall. We think the epicenter of the golf season is the summer.

“People all over the world are playing their golf in the summer,” he continued. “Being right in the middle of it should be great for us. Going to live television was a huge deal. Being a part of the FedEx Cup race was enormous. Every tournament will ultimately have to be inside that FedEx Cup to survive.”

As for the field losing some of its luster, Watkins allows that the Viking could lose a big name or two, but for the most part, he says, “I don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact on us. Most of the guys playing in the British Open weren’t guys that play here anyway. Our field should be largely unaffected; of course, that remains to be seen. I went back and looked at last year’s tournament that played opposite the British Open and it was really good field-wise and ratings-wise.”


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