In reporting on the PGA Tour landing new sponsor Sentry for the Tournament of Champions, Doug Ferguson noted this about the efforts to turn this into a joint PGA Tour-LPGA Tour winners-only kick off event.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan had said last year that the tour was contemplating a scenario where the LPGA Tour and the PGA Tour play a winners-only format at the same venue. “That has not materialized here,” Monahan said.
Meanwhile, the Sony Open in Honolulu is the week after the Tournament of Championship. Its title sponsorship ends in 2018. For years there was concern that if one of the tournaments had left, it would be more difficult to stage the other as a single event in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
“We have been playing golf in Hawaii for over 50 years,” Monahan said. “And the two tournaments present a strong start to the calendar year that we looking forward to continuing.”
It would have been a fun idea and may still happen, though the release notes the event's playing in January 2018 but it sounds like it may have to be nimble beyond that year.
For Immediate Release:
Sentry Becomes New Title Sponsor of Tournament of Champions
Leading insurance company signs 5-year deal to sponsor winners-only event at Kapalua
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida, and STEVENS POINT, Wisconsin (August 16, 2017) – The PGA TOUR and Sentry, one of the largest business-focused mutual insurance companies in the United States, today announced a five-year agreement making Sentry the new title sponsor of the exclusive winners-only Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Resort in Hawaii.
The newly named Sentry Tournament of Champions will maintain its traditional spot as the first tournament in January 2018 when the 2017-18 PGA TOUR schedule resumes following the holiday break. The agreement extends through the 2021-22 season.
“Sentry Insurance is proud to partner with the PGA TOUR to sponsor the Tournament of Champions, held on beautiful Maui,” said Pete McPartland, Sentry chairman of the board, president, and CEO. “This tournament and its champions format is the ideal way to more broadly introduce Sentry to the business insurance audience.”
While this represents Sentry’s first major sports sponsorship, it has been involved with golf since 1984 when the company built SentryWorld, Wisconsin’s first destination golf course. Sponsoring the Sentry Tournament of Champions is considered a natural next step for Sentry, providing an opportunity to reach a wide business audience.
“We are thrilled to welcome Sentry to the PGA TOUR and become its first major venture into sports sponsorship,” said Brian Oliver, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President of Sponsorship & Partnership. “Sentry is highly respected as a company that is dedicated to its employees, its customers and embraces the spirit of giving back. So, we view this as a relationship between two organizations that hold common values.”
Sentry assumes sponsorship of a tournament that dates to 1953, when it was introduced at Las Vegas’ Desert Inn Country Club as an event for winners from the previous season. The Tournament of Champions remained at Desert Inn CC until 1967, when it moved to Stardust Country Club. The tournament moved from Las Vegas in 1969 to La Costa Country Club in Carlsbad, California, where it remained for 30 years before relocating to its current home at Kapalua Resort on the island of Maui.
As might be expected with a winners-only format, the Sentry Tournament of Champions has a rich history of champions, from World Golf Hall of Fame members to modern-day stars, as represented by just the past five winners: defending champion Justin Thomas, a four-time winner this season, including at Sunday’s PGA Championship; Jordan Spieth (2016); Patrick Reed (2015); Zach Johnson (2014); and Dustin Johnson (2013).