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Attendance holds steady in Year 2 of Encompass Championship

Despite the threat of inclement weather during the first round and the suspension of the second round in the afternoon due to thunderstorms, the Encompass Championship drew about 30,000 spectators for the week, according to tournament officials. It was similar to the number of fans who attended the inaugural Champions Tour stop at North Shore Country Club in Glenview a year ago.

Mike Galeski, the tournament’s director, also reported that 30 new sponsors signed up for a total of 73 in Year 2, and the pro-am days were at capacity.

“A key is to continue to attract new sponsors and expose our entertainment and hospitality to a whole new group of people,” Galeski said. “You expect to do some of that in the second year. We had good sophomore results.”

The Champions Tour announced last week that the 2015 Encompass Championship will move from its June date to July 6-12 to accommodate the U.S. Senior Open, which will be held June 22-28 in Sacramento, California.

Galeski said it’s a neutral change for his tournament, which ran from June 16-22 this year.

“Chicago is so busy all summer long, and I don’t think there is one great date that stands out,” he said. “There was nothing wrong with the date we had, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with this date. We will go about our business the same way.”

Next year is the third and final year that Encompass Insurance is under contract as the tournament’s title sponsor. Galeski said all parties are in preliminary discussions, but there is no official word on the tournament’s future beyond 2015.

Tom Ealy, the president of Encompass Insurance, said the tournament this year exceeded his expectations, and he loves his company’s “affiliation with golf.” Ealy also raved about North Shore Country Club as the tournament host.

“I want us to be affiliated with golf, whether that’s as a title sponsor, I don’t know yet,” he said. “But it’s delivered everything we’ve wanted it to deliver.”

Once again, the tournament also delivered a finish to remember.

A year after Craig Stadler sank a 12-foot par putt on the 54th hole to win the inaugural tournament by one stroke, Tom Lehman made a 12-foot birdie putt on the last green to take the trophy by a single shot this year.

“[It] was a great tournament week with fantastic competition and a deserving champion,” Galeski said. “We feel Tom Lehman will be a great ambassador for us.”

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