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Hospitality Can Get Expensive

Senior Open: The $90,000 tents at Riviera are sold out, but there are a few left at $60,000.


Got an extra $60,000 burning a hole in your checkbook?

Call Bill Knight at Riviera, where 19 hospitality tents or other venues were offered and four remain unsold for this week's U.S. Senior Open.

Economic note: The $90,000 structures, with their panoramic view of No. 18 and a few seats near the green, are sold out, but there are a few left at 60K, plus some patrons tables in the clubhouse at a mere $20,000.

"We'll put in another table if someone wants to buy one," said Knight, the championship director, still selling hard on Sunday.

The tournament is far from a sellout, whatever that is. A capacity of 25,000 spectators per day has been set, though the history of tournament golf at Riviera indicates that no "Sold Out" signs are generally used if more than 25,000 show up.

As of Sunday, about 50,000 tickets had been sold, spread over three practice rounds and four days of the tournament.

"We're in pretty good shape, actually," Knight said. "Everybody knows that this market is a late-buy market. Actually, we're hoping for a strong walk-up sale.

"If I was in a different market, with fewer competing activities, I'd be more concerned."

He's also hoping for a break in the heat, and for people to remember that Pacific Palisades is generally a target for ocean breezes.

Riviera is trying to put on a good face in an effort to persuade the United States Golf Assn. to award a U.S. Open to the course in 2004 or 2005, and a strong crowd might help its bid.

More important, though, is the golf course, the USGA figuring that a U.S. Open is going to be sold out, no matter where it's played.


Practice rounds for the U.S. Senior Open begin today at 7 a.m., though most of the players won't be in town until later in the day or the week after playing in the Ameritech Senior Open in Illinois.

Along with the practice rounds, Southern California PGA professionals will work with about 200 children from the L.A. County Sheriff's Youth Foundation on the driving range today, and senior tour players Dave Stockton and Jim Dent will work with them on Tuesday.


It's not the first time the U.S. Senior Open has been in California.

Well, sort of.

In 1985, Miller Barber won the event at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Club in Stateline, Nev., where a part of the dogleg on the par-four eighth hole crosses the state line into California.

California and Minnesota are the only states that have played host to all 13 USGA championships.


The oldest U.S. Senior Open champion was a relative youngster as far as the field was concerned.

Roberto De Vicenzo won the first open in 1980 at 57 years two months 15 days. But back then, you had to be 55 to play in the tournament.

A year later, the eligibility age was reduced to 50, just in time for Arnold Palmer to win at Oakland Hills.


On Sunday night, Riviera members and guests got an early look at a statue of Ben Hogan, which will be formally unveiled Tuesday night at a charity function hosted by the Senior Tour Wives Inc.

Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are co-chairmen of the event, which will include Hogan's widow, Valerie, as well as several Senior PGA Tour players and their wives.


Senior Open Championship

* When: Thursday through Sunday.

* Where: Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades (6,906 yards, par 71).

* Defending champion: Graham Marsh.

* Television: ESPN (Thursday and Friday, 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. both days); Channel 4 (Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. both days).

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