PGA Tour signs two event sponsors, European Tour loses one

Thomas Aiken at the Avantha Masters
Getty Images
Thomas Aiken won the Avantha Masters trophy last spring, but likely won't get a chance to defend his title in the biggest golf event in India.
By John Holmes
PGA.com

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Sunday, September 08, 2013 | 7:09 p.m.

There’s good news, and a little bit of bad news, on the global tour front.

On Friday, the PGA Tour revealed two good pieces of news: The Tampa Bay Championship signed Valspar paints as its new title sponsor, while Hyundai renwed its title sponsorship of the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

A few days earlier, however, the Avantha Group said it would no longer sponsor the Avantha Masters on the European Tour, likely ending the biggest golf event in India after four years. Losing the tournament is a big blow to the small but growing movement of golf in India.

"It's definitely going to affect India's golfing scenario,” Sunil Manocha, the COO of promoter Nimbus Sport, told The India Times. “This is a bad signal for things to come in the future." 

The Avantha Masters was sanctioned by the European Tour, the Asian Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India. With its loss, India now has three international tournaments – the $300,000 SAIL-SBI Open, the $300,000 Panasonic Open India and the $1.25 million Indian Open. 

The Avantha Masters' purse proved to be its downfall, as The India Times explained that the falling Indian rupee meant that Avantha was having to put in more and more money to pay the $2.3 million purse offered in recent years. Avantha, the paper said, had to increase its cash contribution as much 57 percent this year just to sustain the event.

For now, European Tour officials are keeping the Avantha Masters' dates – the week of March 23, 2014 – open, in hopes that another sponsor steps forward. 

Meanwhile in Tampa, Valspar signed on for four years, and its 2014 Valspar Championship will be played March 13-16, keeping intact a Florida Swing of four straight PGA Tour tournaments in March. In addition, BB&T Corp., a banking concern based in Winston-Salem, N.C., will be the presenting sponsor for the next four years. 

The Valspar Championship will remain at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook, which many players consider one of the best tournament courses in Florida. 

Valspar is the Tampa Bay event’s fourth title sponsor since 2003. The tournament didn’t have a title sponsor last year, and there were concerns that it might not be played in 2014 without one.

Meanwhile, Hyundai signed a two-year extension to keep its name on the PGA Tour's first tournament of the calendar year. It’ll be held Jan. 3-6 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, where the tour has opened its season since 1999. 

Next year, however, will be the first time that it won’t be the official season opener because the PGA Tour is going to a wraparound season that starts in October with six events. Its field will be made up of PGA Tour winners from the 2013 season, and those six tournaments that start the 2013-14 season. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.