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Volume 21 No. 34
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For Champions, event first and then title deal

The PGA Tour’s Champions circuit is taking a title sponsorship approach that follows a different strategy from the typical formula: Host the tournament first and then add a title deal after the event has proved its worth.

The tour used the strategy to attract a title partner for its Champions event in Tucson that in 2018 will become The Cologuard Classic. Exact Sciences and the tour are announcing a three-year deal this week that makes the company’s early cancer detection brand the title partner of the event, which has gone without a sponsor since it was created three years ago.

The tournament, set for Feb. 26 to March 4 at Omni Tucson National’s Catalina Course, will continue to be run by the Tucson Conquistadores, a local charitable organization. But next year’s event will be held two weeks earlier to align with the Colon Cancer Alliance’s National Colon Cancer Awareness Month that begins in March.

Exact Sciences stepped in to buy the title sponsorship for the Champions event in Tucson, Ariz.
In addition to the title deal, Exact Sciences will become a PGA Tour corporate marketing partner that includes a media buy, on-site activation at select PGA Tour Champions events, and an endorsement deal with Champions golfer Jerry Kelly. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The Tucson sponsorship approach mirrors the Champions title deal of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in Atlanta. That event, held in mid-April, was created in 2013 and run by a local host organization until Mitsubishi stepped up with a title deal for the event in 2016.

The Champions tour is also in talks with Rapiscan Systems to sponsor next year’s Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in Biloxi that was created in 2010 with presenting sponsors, but has never had a title sponsor.

“Typically, title deals are done with new events in markets where [sponsors] want to play and most are hometown brands,” said Greg McLaughlin, PGA Tour Champions president. “But we launched these events to fill a need in our schedule between January and April and these were strong markets for us and felt they would warrant hosting and supporting events. Strategically, we felt we would be able to find a title sponsor in those events.”

It’s a model that the Champions tour may look to continue, particularly in the early part its season.

“We will certainly consider a similar model where we have a need based on the schedule or where we feel that in the long term would be a good Champions market,” McLaughlin said.