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Lopez wants LPGA back at Eagle's Landing

By Doug Gorman

dgorman@henryherald.com

It's been three years since the LPGA last made its annual stop at Eagle's Landing Country Club in Stockbridge.

But, from 1992-2006, a women's professional golf tournament was a Southern Crescent tradition.

If LPGA Hall of Fame golfer and Albany resident, Nancy Lopez, has her way, a women's professional tournament could eventually return to Eagle's Landing Country Club.

"Chick-fil-A did a great job of sponsoring the tournament for years, and when their sponsorship went a way, that really hurt," Lopez said during a phone interview Monday. "With the economy being the way it is right now, it's tough, but hopefully, things are going to change, and we will be able to get a sponsor. There are some people who seem interested, but I haven't heard anything definite."

Lopez served as the official host of the tournament, lending her name to the event for the last few years. Her last victory on the LPGA tour came at Eagle's Landing, when she won the tournament in 1997.

In the 15 years of the tournament, more than $ 7 million was raised.

During its heyday at Eagle's Landing Country Club, the tournament was one of the most popular and lucrative events outside the four majors on the LPGA tour.

The tournament at Eagle's Landing evolved from a three-round event to a four-round shoot-out, drawing large crowds and offering exciting action on the final day.

"We had over 90 of the top players each year," Lopez said. "The players were devastated, I feel, when it went away. Everyone was always really excited about being here and playing in the Atlanta area.

"It was a easy to get into and get out of. They ran a great event at Eagle's Landing. Everyone who played enjoyed the event," she said.

Annika Sorenstam, ranked No. 1 in the world before retiring last year, won twice at Eagle's Landing Country Club.

In 2006, Florida's Natural, an orange juice company, took over as the event's main sponsor. The following year, women's professional golf was removed from the LPGA calendar at Eagle's Landing, when a full-time sponsor couldn't be found.

One of the highlights during the LPGA tournament at Eagle's Landing was the presentation of the Nancy Lopez Award given every year to the top female amateur player. The 2003 winner, Lorena Ochoa, is now the top-ranked professional golfer on the LPGA tour.

But one of the things Lopez is most proud of, is the amount of money the tournament was able to give back to charities.

"The LPGA has always been about charity and giving back to the community," she said. "That's one of the great things we were able to do."