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SHOWDOWN CLASSIC ON FIRM GROUND

Friday's announcement that the Showdown Classic golf tournament has picked up the Franklin International Institute as its title sponsor puts the tournament on its most secure footing ever.

Franklin President Arlen Crouch said his company is making "a major contribution over a three-year period" to the tournament, which will be re-named the Franklin Showdown Classic. He preferred not to name a dollar amount, but said it was "over seven-figures."During its 10-year history, the Showdown has existed on a year-to-year basis with various sponsors who haven't made near the commitments Franklin has made.

"There were times in the mid- to late 80s when (the tournament) was very questionable," said Senior PGA Tour Director of Administration Ric Clarson. "But this puts it on solid ground for the next three years. I personally think it's a great fit (with Franklin)."

Clarson was on hand for the press conference at the Franklin Institute headquarters Friday afternoon, along with Gov. Norm Bangerter and several Franklin officials. Also Sen. Orrin Hatch talked via videotape.

"The successful tournaments have deep roots in the community from a corporate side, a volunteer side and a charity side," said Clarson. "The most important thing for this tournament is that it now has all the key elements to make it successful."

The golf tournament is scheduled for the week of Aug. 24-30. Among the events early in the week is Congressional Cup Challenge. The tournament proper is Aug. 28-30.

"This is a fun event for the state of Utah and it's given us a lot of good publicity over the years," said Bangerter. "We're pleased to be a part of it."

Sen. Hatch said, "This is a great chance to let people know how beautiful our state is."

According to Clarson, Franklin's involvement is good news for the Senior Tour officials and players.

"I talked to (defending champion) Dale Douglass and some other players and they were pleased to hear that the tournament had acquired sponsorship from one of Utah's leading companies," said Clarson.

This year's tourney will have a total purse of $400,000, up $50,000 from last year. The purse is expected to increase $50,000 each of the next two years also. Two charities that will benefit from the tournament are the Intermountain Ronald McDonald House and Cottonwood Alta View Health Care Foundation.