Thursday, May 28, 2009
West to head Northern Trust Open
By Jason Sobel
The man known in basketball circles as "Mr. Clutch" is bringing his skills to the world of golf, as NBA all-time great Jerry West has been named executive director of the PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open, it was announced Thursday.
According to a statement issued by the PGA Tour, in his newly established role, West will "educate the community about the Northern Trust Open and all that it has done, and will do, for Los Angeles," and "will work to further engage the community through public appearances and speaking engagements and drive leads, both in sales and support."
"The Northern Trust Open is more than a golf tournament," said West, who played all 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. "It's an opportunity to bring all of L.A. together to make an impact on this great city, to grow the programs associated with the event -- those that help children across the city and those that are so desperately needed, especially in these economic times. It's an honor to become a part of the Northern Trust Open and work to make this event the absolute best in the world."
A mainstay on the PGA Tour's annual schedule since 1926, the former Los Angeles Open has been contested at Riviera CC in all but one year since 1973. In February, world No. 2 Phil Mickelson successfully defended his title with a 1-stroke victory over Steve Stricker.
"The Northern Trust Open has a long and storied history in Los Angeles and all of the elements for a top-tier tournament already exist," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "Riviera is a great course; the city of Los Angeles offers one of the most dynamic, diverse communities in the world; and Northern Trust is an incredible title sponsor.
"Adding a legend like Jerry West to the mix -- someone who brings unlimited enthusiasm and love for the city of Los Angeles, the game of golf and local charitable programs -- will no doubt help us make the Northern Trust Open one of the best stops on the PGA Tour, as well as one of the most impactful events on the city of Los Angeles," Finchem said.
After spending nearly four decades with the Lakers as a player, head coach and general manager, West most recently served as general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies before retiring in 2007. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member turned 71 on Thursday.
"This is the beginning of something very special, for not only me, but more importantly for the Northern Trust Open and the community of Los Angeles," West said. "My involvement with the Northern Trust Open is my way of giving back to the city that has given me so much. For more than 40 years, I have taken all of the love that Los Angeles has offered me -- this is the chance to do something for the community that has been so great to me."
Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com.