Eddie Thomas will now serve as executive director of the tournament.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
VIENNA -- Every day, Tim Wicinski drives over 60 miles from his home in South Euclid to Squaw Creek Country Club.
Wicinski, a Mentor native, is in his third year on the staff of the Thomas Management Group, which operates the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic.
Wicinski was promoted to tournament manager, a position held the last 12 years by his boss, Eddie Thomas, the president of the group.
Thomas, who has run every LPGA tournament held in the Valley, is now the executive director of the tournament.
Wicinski, a 1994 graduate of Mt. Union College, will take over the day-to-day duties of running the $1 million tournament, which began its second stint at Squaw Creek last year.
"It gives Eddie a chance to spend more time on the bigger things involved with the event," Wicinski said.
Wicinski joined the Thomas team in 1999 as coordinator of sales and marketing. Last year, he was moved up to assistant tournament manager and kept his position in sales and marketing.
Youngstown native Joe Gregory, brother of Marc Gregory, is now in charge of sales and marketing. He was also on Thomas' staff for many years before taking a position with the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.
Wicinski worked as an intern in college at the World Series of Golf at Firestone Country Club, where he met Thomas.
After graduating from Mt. Union he took a position with Pacific Sports, which managed road races and triathlons all over the country.
Gregory left the staff for the NHL early in 1999.
Wicinski's new position allows him to be involved with every aspect of the tournament.
"There is something different every day," he said.
He is still involved with the sales and marketing part of the tournament.
"Sponsorships are the lifeblood of this tournament and we are always looking for more," he said.
"It becomes a bigger challenge each year because we have contacted just about everybody in the area at one time or another and the challenge to get more and new sponsors is always out there," Wicinski added.
There have been discussions about increasing the purse, but the tournament has to decide on just how much it would affect the charity donations, which have increased every year since the tournament began.
"First and foremost we want to be able to take care of our charities," he said. "It that's possible and we can still increase the purse, we will."
Wicinski is excited about this year's tournament field of professionals.
"It's going to be the best field we ever had," he said. "When the 2002 tournament schedule came out and we saw where we were, we felt it would be a good one."