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If an 11-year-old wins the first Compaq World Putting Championship this year, Compaq Computer Corp. won't be disappointed.

Anyone could win, and that's why Compaq signed as title sponsor of the national putting championship, which has drawn participants from more than 960 golf courses since launching in May.

Overseen and managed by putting expert Dave Pelz, Compaq's contest is expected to lure an additional 100 or more golf courses before the qualifying deadline July 31.

Local winners must sink golf balls in a series of holes. Winners advance to the state finals, and national finals are slated for November. Top prize is $250,000 for world's best putter, but total prize money tops $900,000.


"You'd need some experience to win, but this is a competition open to everyone, and anybody could win. It's a great equalizer," said Jim Garrity, VP-communications for Compaq.

DelWilber & Associates, St. Louis, coordinated the sponsorship deal. Although Compaq backs various other tennis and golf tournaments, the putting championship is now its major event.

"We liked the fact that the championship is accessible to the average person and it allows people of various skill levels to do their best, which is also Compaq's brand positioning," Mr. Garrity said.

The most compelling aspect was Compaq's ability to have title sponsorship and a large degree of control over a brand-new event associated with the putting expert, whose Dave Pelz Short Game Tour visits 30 cities annually. He also hosts golf training programs on cable's Golf Channel.

Mr. Pelz works one-on-one with golfers in his private clinics and as part of the Compaq World Putting Championship.

Despite the competition's name, the championship is not international in its debut year, but the world's top PC marketer is moving toward adding other countries for 1997.

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