As The Sponsorships Turn
By Torleif Sorenson on 9/30/14
While golf fans everywhere were either celebrating or complaining about the 2014 Ryder Cup, the movers-and-shakers were moving and shaking behind the scenes in professional golf.

This morning, the PGA Tour announced this morning that Cadillac, a division of General Motors, will become the title sponsor of the 2015 World Golf Championships match play competition. That tournament will be played at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco next April 27 through May 3, after a decade in the Tucson, Arizona area. During those years, sudden snowstorms frequently disrupted and delayed playing of the tournament, which was sponsored by Andersen Consulting, which later became Accenture.

Cadillac's agreement with the PGA Tour for the 2015 Match Play is for one year. The company is already the title sponsor of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, a medal play event at Doral in Florida each March.

But at the same time, the Tour is now shopping for a new sponsor of their annual stop in the Coachella Valley. On Monday, the Tour announced that Humana, the Kentucky-based health care company, is ending their sponsorship of the tournament. The Tour's press release pointed to changes in the company's business and marketing priorities, but the turbulent environment of the health care and health insurance industry was also cited as a key factor.

Previously known for decades as the Bob Hope Desert Classic, the tournament was a 90-hole competition with a popular pro-am, but was scaled back to 72 holes in 2012.

Assuming that the PGA Tour continues the event in 2016, it will also be played on two different courses. While La Quinta Country Club will still be the primary venue, PGA West officials announced a couple of months ago that the Palmer Course and the Nicklaus Private Course will not be used after the 2015 event. Given that the former Bob Hope Classic is not one of the elite regular season events on Tour, some players may well consider which course (or courses, plural) replace the two layouts at PGA West — and might skip the event for that reason.

However, PGA Tour players are not likely to pass on the Match Play, given its elite status as a WGC event and the stature of the renovated Harding Park course.

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