Honda Set To Bow Out As PGA Tour Sponsor After 42 Years
The motor company is ending its sponsorship of the PGA Tour event after an association lasting over four decades
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After the drama of last week’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club – the second elevated event on the PGA Tour in succession - normality returns to the circuit this week with the Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida.
Nevertheless, it will be significant for another reason. Following a 42-year association with the tournament, this will be the final time it will be sponsored by Honda.
The event began in 1972 and was known by various iterations of the original Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic until 1981 when American Motors became its title sponsor. The year after, Honda took up the sponsorship reins and it was renamed the Honda Inverrary Classic, before becoming the Honda Classic in 1984.
That is all about to come to an end following an announcement last November that Honda’s days as a sponsor were numbered. At the time, a Honda official told Golfweek (opens in new tab): “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. “
The tournament has been in decline for several years following a 2019 move in the schedule of The Players Championship from May to March. That put it in close proximity to the Honda Classic, and led to many high-profile players opting to miss the tournament and prepare for the unofficial fifth Major.
This year, its scheduling leaves it even more vulnerable, coming the week after the $20m Los Angeles tournament and directly before another elevated event, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is then followed by the $25m TPC Sawgrass tournament.
While the elevated events either side of the tournament are not the reason Honda is ending its relationship with the PGA Tour, there's no doubt it has lost much of its high profile in recent years. It could once rely on some of the world’s best players competing, including former winners Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Couples, Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy. In the latter's case, he won in 2012 after edging out Tiger Woods emphasising the relatively recent prominence the tournament enjoyed.
Despite Honda's association with the PGA Tour coming to an end, the company remains the sponsor of another tournament getting under way this week, the Honda LPGA Thailand, which it first sponsored in 2006.
Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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