For the third time in three years, the PGA Tour’s season opening event at Kapalua’s Plantation Course will have a new title sponsor and name in 2011. From the Mercedes Championship to the SBS Championship, it is now called the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. No wonder “SBS Championship” t-shirts were on sale in the Plantation Course pro shop when I visited last month! (Sorry, forgot to take a picture.)
Seoul Broadcasting System International announced at the ’09 PLAYERS Championship that it would become the title sponsorship of Kapalua for the next ten years, but included in the contract was the option to sell its rights. Hyundai Motors America has agreed to assume control of the sponsorship for the next three years, assuring the tournament will remain at Kapalua through 2013.
Calling the event “Tournament of Champions” is a throwback to the original name when it began in 1953 in Las Vegas. It will be the first time the term will be used since 1993.
Hyundai has been shopping to sponsor a PGA Tour event for some time. The company was reportedly in talks to sponsor the WGC Championship at Doral, but the deal fell through because the price tag of $12 million was too expensive, according to industry insiders.