Honda To End Longest-Running Title Sponsorship On PGA Tour

Japanese auto manufacturer Honda will end the longest-running continuous sponsorship deal on the PGA Tour, as they end their 42-year association with the Honda Classic next February.A report in Golfweek broke the news that the 2023 Honda Classic in February will be the last under the current moniker, which it’s been known as since 1982.First known as the Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic when it was introduced in 1972, the tournament became the Honda Classic 10 years later – with it moving to its current home at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens in 2007.The tournament is thought to be planning to continue on the PGA Tour schedule with the search for a new title sponsor for 2024 and beyond already underway.“We’re so appreciative of 42 years of title sponsorship,” Tournament director Andrew George was quoted as saying in Golfweek (opens in new tab).“You look at the impact they made, $60 million plus to charity and helped us grow this to 200,000-plus on-site each year. Collectively as a community we own them a huge thank you.Course snaps but make it cool(er) 📸#HondaClassic @PGANatl 28, 2022See more“We’re going to get right to work on solidifying a place for 2024. We’re not going to be without title, without an event going forward. The moment is going to continue.”A statement from Honda confirmed the news, saying they felt they had achieved their goal set by sponsoring the event so had decided to call it a day.“When Honda became title sponsor of the Honda Classic, the company was preparing to make the popular Accord in the United States for the first time. At that time Honda aspired to become a household name, and has since achieved that goal. Accordingly, the role of the Honda Classic in our marketing strategy has evolved, and we have decided to conclude our sponsorship of the event,” Honda said in a statement.“Now, as our marketing mix has evolved, Honda is focused on other tools to introduce our brand to consumers and to create the kind of customer experience that will contribute to their lifetime owner loyalty.”The drop in the quality of fields in recent years has been mooted as a reason Honda may have felt they were not getting the best value for their money.The Honda Classic once had one of the strongest fields on the PGA Tour outside the Majors and WGC events, but in 2021 they had just five of the top 50 players attending, and even though it rose this year they still had just 12 players in the top 50 taking part.And further schedule changes will make attracting the top players even more difficult from 2023 onwards, as it’s sandwiched between four new PGA Tour elevated events – with top players committed to playing these events with an improved $20m price fund compared to the $8m on offer at the Honda Classic.The WM Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational, hosted by Tiger Woods, are the two events played in the weeks before the Honda Classic, and it’s followed by the Arnold Palmer Invitational and then the Tour’s flagship Players Championship.It could be a tough sell to get the top PGA Tour players back to PGA National, but also for prospective new sponsors given the tough competition and increased prize funds being offered elsewhere.

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