By Jill Painter, Los Angeles Daily News
POSTED: 02/18/14, 1:58 PM PST | UPDATED: ON 02/18/2014
After five years as the tournament’s general manager, Bone can feel good about the event’s place on the PGA Tour schedule. He and Jerry West, who recently resigned to focus on his NBA gig with the Golden State Warriors, were never able to lure Tiger Woods back to the event, but the tournament made other strides.
“What I’m most proud of is that we put a team in place and worked very hard to make this tournament relevant in L.A. again,” said Bone, who originally signed a three-year contract to run the Northern Trust Open, then extended it two more years. “Jerry was a huge help. He’s a huge reason people gave us a second chance. And we listened to the public and customers on what they wanted to see.”
The Northern Trust Open has made City of Hope its officialy charity. There are four sections of bleacher seats for fans – before Bone’s tenure there were none – and Riviera Country Club renovated its driving range by expanding it, and bleachers were added behind it.
The field was down this year without a lot of big names – Phil Mickelson took his daugther on vacation, Woods hadn’t been back in eight years anyway, and Rory McIlroy has never played here. Fred Couples missed the cut, but he just signed on to work with Northern Trust to talk players into coming.
Still, the Northern Trust got its big name in the end when Dustin Johnson challenged on the back nine and Bubba Watson won.
Bone said the attendance figure was at 50,000 for the week, up 5 percent from last year.
Weather played a positive role as there was sunshine all week, but ‘Jamzilla’ – the 405 Freeway weekend closure through the Sepulveda Pass – threatened attendance.
That was about the only thing that got under Bone’s skin during his tenure. Even the annual Woods questions didn’t rattle him.
“The first couple of years it was frustrating to keep hearing that a number of people in L.A. just don’t care about golf,” Bone said. “As we became more and more successful, they came back.”
Bone, who owns Spectrum Sports Management in Claremont, is scheduled to vacation in Hawaii this week. Upon his return, he’ll start to work on running the golf event in the Special Olympics World Games in 2015 at Griffith Park, in addition to other sporting events in Southern California.
“I’m going to miss not working for the Tour directly and working on a historic event,” Bone said. “It’s not lost on me that there are only about 40 of these jobs in the world. For me personally, this has been not so much about the golf tournament as being involved in helping turn around and save a historic sporting event in L.A.”
And now that he’s handing the reins to O.D. Vincent, the former UCLA golf coach, he won’t be the one fielding the Woods question anymore.
“I don’t expect to see him back here,” Bone said. “I’m not sure why.”
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