Officials at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial have scheduled a June 23 meeting to form a search committee and begin the process of finding a replacement for tournament director Peter Ripa, who accepted a similar post Monday with the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.
Chuck Scherer, Colonial tournament chairman, said representatives from Fort Worth’s annual PGA Tour stop plan to begin interviewing candidates as soon as possible and already have fielded some inquiries about the vacancy.
“I’d love to have someone in place by the early fall,” Scherer said in a phone interview this morning. “There are some wonderful candidates out there and a couple of them already have been in contact.”
Ripa has spent the last five years as Colonial’s tournament director. Under his leadership, Colonial has won multiple awards from the PGA Tour for its marketing approach and set a tournament record for charitable giving with $6.6 million in 2008.
Ripa said today that he is “a little saddened to be leaving Fort Worth” but was enticed by the opportunity to succeed Tom Wilson as executive director of the Century Club, the charitable organization that oversees the San Diego event, following Wilson’s retirement at the conclusion of the 2012 tournament.
In addition, the venue for the San Diego event, Torrey Pines Golf Course, served as the site for the 2008 U.S. Open and is expected to be in the mix for future Opens. Ripa said that factor also entered into his decision.
Ripa’s last day at Colonial will be July 1, with a starting date of July 5 in his new post. Scherer said Ripa definitely will be missed.
“He has elevated our tournament and he will do the same thing in San Diego,” Scherer said. “He’s a dear friend and we’ll miss him. But our situation, as a tournament, will continue just fine.”
Colonial’s tournament dates for next year are May 21-27, 2012. Colonial has a signed agreement with its title sponsor, Crowne Plaza, that runs through the 2015 tournament.
Follow Jimmy Burch on Twitter @Jimmy_Burch.
_ Jimmy Burch