Season Opening Championship Picks Up New Sponsor; Skins Game Cancelled

Good news for the PGA Tour. The season opening championship formerly known as the Mercedes Championship has a new sponsor: a Korean broadcasting company called SBS.

The tournament’s future was in doubt after Mercedes elected to end their sponsorship after eleven years, thanks to a 23 percent dive in sales. There also was concern that the loss of the Mercedes would have a domino effect and also take out the Sony Open on Oahu, which benefits immensely from the name players who stay in the islands for an extra week. Participants in the Mercedes are Tour winners from the previous year.

SBS formerly had sponsored the LPGA’s Turtle Bay tournament. But that deal ended when the LPGA signed a two tournament deal with a rival Korean broadcaster. SBS will sponsor the season opening Championship for ten years, and will include a Korean broadcast of the event.

The best part of this is that the Tour is separating itself from automobiles and the financial industry. Instead of replacing Mercedes with another car maker, or a bank, they’ve moved to a media company—and one that should open a new audience for the Tour.

At the same time, there’s some bad news for professional golf (or maybe just Fred Couples), as the Skins Game has been canceled for this year. The 30 year old event, held on Thanksgiving weekend, lost it’s sponsor, the Korean electronics company LG.

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