Feb 18, 2014 7:25 PM by Nathan O'Neal
MARANA - As 64 of the world's best professional golfers prepare for the Accenture Match Play Championship, it's future remains in limbo.
The tournament officially kicks off Wednesday morning at Dove Mountain. Accenture Match Play has enjoyed eight years in Southern Arizona and gone through two separate contracts.
Accenture's contract for 2014 is wrapping up and a cloud of uncertainty hovers over the start of this year's competition, as there is a possibility Southern Arizona could lose Match Play altogether.
"I hope that we can come again. We hope it's not the last year," said Karen Meenakshi, a devoted fan from Tucson as she collected autographs.
Neal Whiteman is president of the Tucson Conquistadores, which is the driving force behind the tournament at Dove Mountain. He said the decision-making process is ongoing.
"There's a lot of moving pieces to it and we're not sure what's going to happen and I'm not sure if the PGA and Accenture exactly quite know what's going to happen yet," Whiteman said.
The negotiations with the PGA are taking place in Florida and remain confidential.
"We've had a really good run and we hope it continues but if it doesn't then we're going to go to a contingency plan. As the Conquistador Group we've had golf here since 1966 and we plan on having golf here next year in one form or another," Whiteman told News 4 Tucson.
While Accenture officials insist that no official decision has been made yet, Whiteman said that if Match Play does leave, they could be looking at bringing in a new PGA event altogether.
Still, as this tournament gets under way there is a sense of urgency in showing off what Arizona has to offer.
"We are working hard to make this event the best experience -- fan experience -- we can have," said Gerald Goodman, the Executive Director of the Accenture Match Play Championship.
"Accenture likes where they stay with their guests. They like the golf course here, so all that will play into negotiations either with Accenture or with another company. This is a great spot," Goodman said.
Whiteman said that we can expect a final decision to come some time after the tournament concludes.
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