FedEx To Title Sponsor Memphis WGC Event In Long-Term Deal
FedEx will title sponsor the WGC event moving from Akron to Memphis next season as part of what PGA Tour Commisioner Jay Monahan indicated is a "long term" agreement to play the tournament in the city, according to a front-page piece by Mark Giannotto of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. The WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind "will take the place of the annual FedEx St. Jude Classic," though the exact dates "aren’t set yet." Monahan said that the tournament "will likely occur in 'late July or August.'" He said that discussions about moving a WGC event to Memphis "began in the 'fourth quarter of 2017,' once the PGA Tour couldn't line up a new sponsor" for the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron. FedEx’ sponsorship of the PGA Tour served as a "major impetus behind why Memphis is hosting such a prestigious event moving forward." FedEx last May "announced a 10-year extension to its sponsorship agreement of the PGA Tour’s season-long points race" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 4/13).
PLAYING SECOND FIDDLE? In Akron, Bob Dyer notes with the WGC leaving town, the city "will instead host the PGA Senior Players Championship" at Firestone Country Club from '19-22, and Bridgestone "will continue as the title sponsor." Bridgestone Americas CEO Gordon Knapp said that his company "would have been permitted to keep the WGC event in Akron had it anted up enough money." However, Bridgestone’s sponsorship budget is "lower than FedEx’s." Monahan said that if Bridgestone "hadn’t stepped up to sponsor the Senior event, 'we might not be here (at all) in 2019'" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 4/13). Monahan said there was a "shift in Bridgestone's strategy." However, Knapp said, "I don't know if I would necessarily describe this as a major change in direction. ... We looked at where the PGA was going with their evolving objectives in pricing, and frankly, we had to take a step back and look at our own portfolio of sports sponsorship packages" (CRAINSCLEVELAND.com, 4/12). In Cleveland, Bill Livingston writes the move by the PGA Tour is an "insult to Akron, which has conducted one of the best-run tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule." The senior event "won't be the same" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/13).