PALM BEACH GARDENS and PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The PGA TOUR, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., and tournament host organization Children's Healthcare Charity, Inc., announced Wednesday that Honda has extended its title sponsorship of The Honda Classic by four years, through 2016.
Honda, which became title sponsor of the tournament in 1982, is the longest-running continuous sponsor on the PGA TOUR. The current agreement is through this year's tournament.
"We are delighted to announce that Honda, which is celebrating its 31st year as title sponsor of The Honda Classic, has agreed to continue its long-standing support of the tournament through a new four-year agreement," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "The Honda Classic has been a mainstay on the Florida Swing for more than 40 years and Honda has played an integral role in its success and growth over the past three decades. We're particularly pleased with the direction and identity of The Honda Classic after undergoing several significant changes five years ago, including the involvement of Jack and Barbara Nicklaus."
"Honda is honored and delighted to continue our partnership with the South Florida community and with the PGA TOUR," said Tetsuo Iwamura, president and CEO of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "In particular, our special collaboration with Jack and Barbara Nicklaus provides great benefit to children, and continues our mission of being a company that makes a very positive impact on society."
In 2007, PGA National Resort & Spa's Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens became the host venue and Children's Healthcare Charity, Inc. became the host organization with the Nicklaus' support, including Barbara serving as chairperson. Additionally, Ken Kennerly became the tournament's new Executive Director and the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation was named the primary beneficiary of The Honda Classic. The Honda Classic has achieved new heights with these changes and the oversight of Kennerly and Tournament Director Ed McEnroe.
"We are very proud of the progress we have made on a variety of fronts over the past five years," Kennerly said. "The Honda Classic has continued to grow in stature and now is regarded as one of the premier events on the PGA TOUR, as evidenced by our improved field, the stature of the Champion Course, terrific partners in Honda, the Nicklaus Family and Palm Beach County, and the increase in attendance from 40,000 in 2006 to more than 110,000 last year ... and we fully expect that number to grow this week. We're excited about Honda's continuing support and we look forward to working together to further the growth of The Honda Classic."
The tournament has been a part of the PGA TOUR since 1972 and over the years has seen many of the game's top players win, including Nicklaus (back-to-back titles in 1977-78) and fellow World Golf Hall of Fame members Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Johnny Miller, Nick Price, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els.
The Champion Course, which opened in 1981, was designed by Tom and George Fazio, and then was redesigned by Nicklaus in 1990 before undergoing a total renovation by Nicklaus Design in 2002. During the 1990 redesign, Nicklaus created what has become known as The Bear Trap, a notorious sequence of the par-3 15th, par-4 16th and par-3 17th holes. The Bear Trap consistently has ranked among the most difficult three-hole stretches on the PGA TOUR and provides significant drama each year.
The Champion Course has been particularly kind to international members of the PGA TOUR over the past four years, with the title going to Els of South Africa (2008), Y.E. Yang of South Korea (2009), Camilo Villegas of Columbia (2010) and defending champion Rory Sabbatini of South Africa, who defeated Yang by one stroke.