Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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Hyundai new title sponsor at Kapalua

By Ann Miller


Hyundai Motor America has parked itself as the new title sponsor for the PGA Tour’s season-opening event at Kapalua’s Plantation Course for at least the next three years.

The announcement of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions was made by the tour, Hyundai and Seoul Broadcasting System International this afternoon. The new title introduces Hyundai, a Korean company with some 800 dealerships in the U.S., and re-introduces the TOC title the tournament was known by from 1953 to 1993.

The tournament, a limited-field event open only to the previous year’s champions, moved to Maui in 1999 and was originally called the Mercedes Championships. SBS signed a 10-year agreement in May of 2009 to take over sponsorship. The agreement also brought SBS PGA Tour broadcast rights in Korea through 2019 and the event still actively sought a title sponsor to keep it on Maui. 

Now SBS will “underpin” the tournament through 2019, according to the tour. That will include hospitality and other on-site activities.

Hyundai calls the title sponsorship a continuation of its “Big Voices in Big Places” strategy, designed to put itself in the “highest profile advertising venues,” including the Super Bowl, an exclusive automotive sponsorship with the Academy Awards and global sponsorship of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“Hyundai’s title sponsorship of the PGA Tour’s traditional season-opening tournament aligns our brand with world-class athletes who mirror our own competitive drive,” said Hyundai Motor America President John Krafcik. 

 PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem was more specific.

“In our discussions,” he said, “Hyundai expressed interest in continuing its brand momentum throughout the U.S., as well as further strengthening its position in Asia. This title sponsorship will help accomplish these goals.”

Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy has won the last two years at Kapalua. He goes for a three-peat Jan. 6-9. Other 2010 winners expected to join him are Sony Open in Hawaii champ Ryan Palmer, Steve Stricker, Camilo Villegas, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, three-time champion Stuart Appleby, Hunter Mahan and Lee Westwood, who just moved to No. 1 in the World Rankings past Tiger Woods. This is the first year since Woods joined the tour in 1996 that he has not won.

The Golf Channel will have coverage at Kapalua all four days, then move to Oahu for the Sony Open in Hawaii, Jan. 13-16 at Waialae Country Club. Sony’s contract is in its final year. The tour’s hope is that the Hyundai commitment, and the elite golfers who usually play both events if they come to Hawaii, will encourage Sony to continue.

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