AT&T National Golf Tournament announces new sponsor

BETHESDA, Md. (WJLA) - The AT&T National golf tournament has a new name, and starting next year it could be exiled from its longtime home.

On Monday, the PGA Tour announced Detroit-based Quicken Loans will now sponsor the event, which Congressional Country Club has entertained for five of the last seven years. However, 2014 could be its last.

Certain members at the uber-elite club have long argued the tournament, which draws more than 150,000 fans to witness 120 of the world’s best golfers compete for a $6.5 million purse, is a major nuisance. Course damage, cancelled tee times, and high traffic volume are a handful of the top complaints. Consequently, the club's board of directors felt a referendum was needed. The options: to host the Quicken Loans National in 2016, 2018, and 2020, or hack the tournament altogether?

"It's a membership that's run by its members. It comes down to the simple equation of, if it's disturbing to them, they're not going to have it," Congressional County Club member Dr. William Amoroso said.

Dr. Amoroso, who runs the Falls Road Veterinary Hospital in Potomac, cast his ballot during the first week of March. The veterinarian tells ABC7 he voted to keep the tournament during even-numbered years.

"During the practice rounds you can meet the players, you can follow them, you can talk to them. It's really a special time," Dr. Amoroso remarked. "It's also fun to watch it on TV, and then walk right down the street and see it in person."

Dr. Amoroso isn't alone in hoping the tournament continues to bustle through Bethesda. During a Monday morning media conference at the Newseum, Tiger Woods made it very clear he too wants the premiere golf event to remain at Congressional.

"It's been a lot of fun over the years," Woods remarked. "This event was started here in D.C., and we'd like to keep it here... there's no doubt about that."

Since launching in 2007, the AT&T National has raised $15 million for the Tiger Woods Foundation. The not-for-profit currently operates three learning centers in Washington, D.C., and the nearby Marine Corps Base - Quantico. In addition, the foundation's accepted 25 local students into the Earl Woods Scholarship Program, where 100 percent of scholars graduate with a bachelor’s degree or better.

"I like the fact that they donate to charities," Dr. Amoroso added. "It makes you feel good. You give up your club for a week and you get some people to benefit from it. A lot of people would never have the chance to see our facility otherwise."

If Congressional's even-numbered year measure passes, many wonder where the Quicken Loans National would venture in 2015, 2017, and 2019. On Monday, Woods name dropped TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, and Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va. as local frontrunners. Others have suggested the Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia would be a comfy fit. Aronimink hosted the AT&T National in 2010 and 2011 with great success while Congressional prepped for the 2011 U.S. Open, which Rory Mcllroy won.

"We'd like to keep it in the D.C. community," Woods reiterated. "This is where we started, and certainly where we'd like to keep it. Certainly there are options out there, and so we're looking at all options right now."

Referendum votes for all 1800 Congressional members are due March 31, with a decision to be announced in the days following. The 2014 Quicken Loans National will be held Monday, June 23 through Sunday, June 29 at Congressional Country Club.