Ron Agostini

Agostini on Golf: CanTour is returning to Del Rio

The golf club liked it. The title charity liked it. The golf tour loved it.

Barring unforeseen events, the United Way Spring International appears to be coming back to Del Rio Country Club in 2009.

The United Way of Stanislaus County's board of directors will act Thursday on the executive committee's recommendation to remain the title charity of the Canadian Tour tournament.

"We had a good feel for it last year. There's no problem that I'm aware of," said Steve Smith, the United Way's chief marketing officer.

This is good news for Modesto golf. It will mark the third time in five years the Canadian Tour, one of the game's top breeding grounds for future stars, arrives at Del Rio. Elk Grove's Spencer Levin, taking a week off from the Nationwide Tour, mounted an incredible rally over the final nine holes to win last April in the CanTour's season opener.

Though United Way had only six weeks to launch a ticket-selling campaign and find volunteers, it sold about 2,000 tickets. Smith figures it will do much better now that it has a six-month walk-up.

"Six months is more palatable," Smith said. "It takes a couple of years to build on, but it has great potential to the community and to the United Way."

Indeed, the United Way received a check for $30,000 at the end of this year's tournament. The First Tee of Modesto, which also chipped in with the pairings party and ticket sales, accepted a check for $6,000.

Adam Parks, president of the Stockton-based Parks Management Group, again will promote and market the tournament. He was employed last year by the Canadian Tour, but he says his new independent status won't change his approach.

"We're looking to grow the tournament," said Parks, who welcomed former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer as a special guest last year. "Given the current economic climate, we're still excited about what we're going to do."

One idea calls for a hike in purse to $125,000 (it was $100,000 last year), which will not be rejected by the CanTour pros. The dates haven't been finalized, but the tour is looking at the week bridging next March and April, which is slightly earlier than 2008.

"We're happy to bring tournament golf back to Modesto," said Duncan Reno, Del Rio general manager. "Anything big that is happening in golf in Modesto, Del Rio wants to be behind it."

THE SHAG BAG -- Daniel Covrig, Fredrik Palmer, Sam and Paul Smith, Shawnee Martinez and Christine Uhalde are nominated for junior-of-the-year awards for the 16th Andy Silva Junior Memorial to be held Oct. 25 at Dryden Park. The tournament costs $140, but separate dinner tickets at the SOS are available for $35. Call Greg Silva, 667-7272. ... Rocco Mediate, beaten by the injured Tiger Woods in a playoff at the U.S. Open, summarized his Open experience Monday at the Save Mart Shootout at Riverbend near Madera: "I was low mortal." ...

Construction continues on a 1,600-square-foot pro shop, larger than the existing facility, at La Contenta near Valley Springs. When the pro shop is finished, work will start on remodeling and expanding the clubhouse. ... The Longs Drugs Challenge will stay at Blackhawk CC in Danville for at least the next two years, according to tournament director Brian Flajole. Longs soon will be acquired by Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark, but Flajole reported last weekend that Longs officials gave the go-ahead to renew the sponsorship. The event may be moved a few weeks earlier to late September to get more daylight. In-Kyung Kim won despite cool and windy weather that marred attendance last weekend.

HOLES-IN-ONE -- Dave Salles, Gustine, 109-yard 12th at Stevinson Ranch, 8-iron. ... Loretta Schlansky, Moraga, 97-yard seventh at Saddle Creek, Copperopolis, 9-iron.

Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or 578-2302.

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