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Steve Stricker photo

Steve Stricker chats with Fred Couples, the 2017 American Family Championship winner, during last year's tournament at University Ridge Golf Course.

The American Family Insurance Championship, a success story in its first two years as a PGA Tour Champions event, will continue to be played at University Ridge Golf Course at least through 2020, tournament organizers said today.

American Family Insurance, the title sponsor, PGA Tour Champions and the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department signed two-year extensions that will go into effect following this year’s tournament, which will be held June 18-24 with three days of competition June 22-24. This year’s tournament marks the end of the original three-year contract.

“When we started the American Family Insurance Championship, we were confident it would become a fantastic event for players, fans and the community, but it has quickly exceeded our expectations in every way,” said Jack Salzwedel, American Family Insurance chairman and CEO.

“In its first two years, the event has raised more than $2.7 million for charity, attracted more than 100,000 fans and contributed millions in economic impact to our region. It’s clear we have the partners, location and formula for success, so let’s keep it going.”

‘Just getting started’

Edgerton native and Madison resident Steve Stricker, who partnered with American Family to bring the Tour Champions to Madison, will continue to serve as host to the tournament. Stricker, a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour, recently signed a three-year extension as brand ambassador for American Family that will take him through the 2020 season.

“The community impact of this event has certainly been one of the highlights of my career,” said Stricker, who tied for third place in last year’s tournament. “What’s even better is we’re just getting started. We will continue to make enhancements for the players, volunteers, fans and sponsors while ultimately raising more money for charity.”

As part of the deal, UW plans to make various improvements to the Ridge and the surrounding grounds, including a renovation of the course’s bunker. In addition, there will be expansions to the players’ locker room and dining facilities, the tournament operations staging locations, along with improvements to cart paths.

“The course updates will not only benefit the championship but also our UW golf teams, other events we host, like the high school state championships, and the thousands of area residents who play University Ridge every season,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said.

Tournament director Nate Pokrass said most of the changes won’t be in place until 2019. He said some of the changes were a product of feedback from players and Tour officials.

“We want to ensure we’re providing an outstanding experience for the players,” Pokrass said. “That involves the golf course, their locker room, their amenities while they’re here for the week. UW believes in that too, so they’re willing to do some renovations and enhancements to the golf course.”

While the extension is for only two more years, Pokrass said he expects the tournament to continue well beyond that.

“Everybody feels extremely positive about this event and the impact it’s having,” Pokrass said. “We have a good formula so it behooves us to keep this going and I think we have a bright future beyond 2020.

“As we get closer to 2020 I’m sure we will continue to look beyond.”

In the first two years, the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation has distributed proceeds of $2.7 million through more than 100 grants to nonprofit organizations focused on healthy kids and families, including American Family Children’s Hospital.

“In two short years, the American Family Insurance Championship has become one of the premier stops on the PGA Tour Champions schedule, and a tournament our players look forward to with great enthusiasm,” said Greg McLaughlin, PGA Tour Champions president.

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Dennis Punzel covers Wisconsin Badgers volleyball, women's basketball for the Wisconsin State Journal.