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Volume 23 No. 13
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AmEx returns to PGA Tour after 14 years

After a 14-year absence, American Express returns as a PGA Tour tournament title sponsor beginning next year as The Desert Classic event in Palm Springs, Calif., becomes The American Express.

Financial terms of the multiyear title deal were not disclosed. It comes after American Express sponsored the WGC-American Express from 1999 to 2006.

Though American Express has been involved in golf as a longtime USGA sponsor with heavy activation at the U.S. Open, the company now is back as a PGA Tour title sponsor of one of the tour’s oldest events, set for Jan. 16-19 next year at the Stadium Course at La Quinta in Palm Springs.

The venerable pro-am tournament, which dates back to 1960 and was known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic through the 1980s, went without a title sponsor this year after CareerBuilder took its name off the event known as the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Now, American Express steps in with the title deal that boosts its investment in golf. In addition to the USGA, the company has an endorsement deal with PGA Tour pro Tony Finau.

“Our new multiyear sponsorship with this historic PGA Tour event is a perfect match,” said Stephen Squeri, chairman and CEO of American Express, in an emailed statement. “Golf consistently ranks as one of the top passions of our card members, and provides some of the most exciting experiences at some of the best venues the game offers. We’re looking forward to making The American Express a ‘must-see’ event for fans and card members alike.”

Wasserman represented American Express in the deal. Lagardère Sports manages the tournament, which has seen other sponsorship changes over the past decade. Prior to CareerBuilder’s deal that began in 2015, the event was sponsored by Humana, which signed on as sponsor in 2012.

For the tour, the deal represents the latest title sponsorship. 3M began its title deal of the 3M Open event in Minneapolis this year, while the Houston Open this year found a new sponsor in The Astros Foundation, led by Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and a consortium of other local sponsors.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome American Express as the new title sponsor for what will be known as The American Express,” said Tyler Dennis, chief of operations for the PGA Tour. “With its historic connection to the great Bob Hope, the tournament has been a popular fixture in the Palm Springs area since 1960 and holds the distinction of being one of two PGA Tour tournaments where amateurs actually play during tournament competition. Through this new relationship, The American Express will continue as an important part of the West Coast Swing.”