Tucson Conquistadors Classic underway this week - Tucson News Now

Tucson Conquistadors Classic underway this week

Many of the players have competed at Tucson National for years, like the course and will come back as long as there is a tournament here. (Source: Tucson News Now) Many of the players have competed at Tucson National for years, like the course and will come back as long as there is a tournament here. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It's been a while since Larry Mize won the Northern Telecom Tucson Open in 1993.  

He picked up a winner's check of $198,000 that year.

Fast forward 23 years and Mize is back at Tucson National, now the Omni Resort, playing for a winners check of $255,000. 

But a lot of things have changed since then, including the need to win the cash as opposed to the need just to win. 

"The money is still involved, there's nothing wrong with making money out here," Mize said. "But we love to compete and just get out here and win golf tournaments."

When Mize won in Tucson, the tournament sponsor was Northern Telecom.

Other sponsors have come and gone, especially for the Accenture Match Play, but now the tournament is being organized without a title sponsor.

It's called the Tucson Conquistador Classic and it's one of a handful of the two dozen senior stops which doesn't have a title sponsor to help carry the financial load.

Because of the loyalty and commitment of the Conquistadors, the tournament has been able to pay its bills, fill a $1.7 million purse and still give money to charity. 

But most people acknowledge it's difficult to do. 

Tucson is lucky in several respects.

Many of the players, including Mize, Jeff Sluman, Tom Watson and others playing here this week have competed on the course for years, like it and will come back as long as there is a tournament here. It's almost like coming home for some of the players.

And secondly, it's the first stop in four weeks after a southern swing dominated by Bernhard Langer, a multiple Master's winner.

The players are anxious to compete. 

Again, for him, it's not the dollars involved.

"Money is a byproduct and its nice to have," Langer said. "But it's really about being in competition, I love to compete."

The tournament gets underway Friday, March 18 through Sunday, March 20, following a two-day pro-am at the Omni Tucson National Resort. 

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