Honda extends sponsorship of The Honda Classic through 2021
Five-year commitment continues longest-running tournament sponsorship on PGA TOUR
February 24, 2016
- Honda became title sponsor of the event in 1982 and has had a long-running relationship with the PGA TOUR. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – As Honda celebrates its 35th year of sponsoring The Honda Classic, the company joined the PGA TOUR and tournament host organization Children’s Healthcare Charity, Inc., in announcing a five-year extension that will carry its title sponsorship through the 2021 tournament. Honda is the longest-running continuous tournament sponsor on TOUR.
“We are extremely pleased to announce this extension that will take Honda’s involvement with the tournament into its 40th year,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “The Honda Classic has been an anchor to our Florida Swing for now going on four decades. This is due in large part to Honda’s continued focus and dedication, plus the ongoing involvement of Jack and Barbara Nicklaus. The tournament has made tremendous strides in terms of overall growth and charitable impact. Honda remains one of the most engaged sponsors on the PGA TOUR and effectively uses The Honda Classic to showcase the work of Honda Classic Cares, which provides charitable support to organizations focused on children’s well-being throughout south Florida.
The tournament made its PGA TOUR debut in 1972 as Jackie Gleason’s Inverrary Classic in Lauderhill, Fla. Ten years later, Honda became the title sponsor.
“We’re proud to extend our thirty-five year partnership with the PGA TOUR to forty years, which will allow us to continue to support hundreds of charitable organizations through Honda Classic Cares,” said Takuji Yamada, president and CEO of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “We are very grateful for the many organizations across Florida that are making a difference in the lives of children.”
In 2007, the PGA National Resort & Spa’s Champion Course became home to The Honda Classic. At the same time, Children’s Healthcare Charity, Inc. became the host organization with Jack and Barbara Nicklaus’ support, including Barbara serving as chairperson. The Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation was also named the primary beneficiary of The Honda Classic and remains so today. Additionally, Kenneth R. Kennerly was named the tournament’s Executive Director in 2007.
“There has been enormous focus on the emergence of The Honda Classic as one of the elite events on the PGA TOUR, but what isn't mentioned often enough is how much the stability American Honda has provided as title sponsor has been the foundation of that success,” Kennerly said. “The partnership between American Honda and this tournament is one of the greatest corporate/event relationships in all of sports. Thirty-five years is a long time and Honda has been a pillar of strength through all of the great moments and some of the trying times in the history of The Honda Classic. We are extremely excited about Honda's continuing support and we look forward to working together to maintain the standard of excellence that has been a trademark of The Honda Classic.”
The Champion Course, which opened in 1981, was designed by Tom and George Fazio, redesigned by Nicklaus in 1990 and then underwent 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.
Since moving to PGA National, international players have found great success at The Honda Classic, winning six of the last eight. Defending champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland won for the second time, snapping a streak of two American victories (Russell Henley in 2014 and Michael Thompson in 2013). Prior to that, five straight titles were claimed by international players: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (2012), Rory Sabbatini of South Africa (2011), Camilo Villegas of Colombia (2010), Y.E. Yang of South Korea (2009) and Ernie Els of South Africa (2008).