Monday, October 15, 2007

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The PGA Tour event in Los Angeles has a new title sponsor for the first time in nearly two decades, with Chicago-based Northern Trust signing a five-year deal and giving the tournament a new name.

The Northern Trust Open will be played Feb. 14-17 at Riviera Country Club.

"We are extremely pleased to announce this new partnership with Northern Trust and excited about its plans to further elevate the profile of this storied tournament," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement.

Nissan had been the title sponsor since 1989 and had a contract through 2010. But the company last year moved its U.S. headquarters from southern California to Nashville, Tenn., and wanted out of its contract if a replacement could be found.

A tour official had said last month that Bearing Point would become the title sponsor, although the deal was never signed. Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said Bearing Point was among a couple of prospects, and negotiations with Northern Trust never ended.

Bearing Point has an endorsement deal with Phil Mickelson, the runner-up to Charles Howell III at Riviera this year.

Northern Trust is an investment management and personal trust company based in Chicago, with two offices in Los Angeles and branches in Newport Beach and Santa Barbara.

The new sponsorship is expected to raise the profile of a PGA Tour event had has been played in the Los Angeles area since 1926 and boasts one of the most revered courses in Riviera.

The prize money already has been increased by $1 million to $6.2 million for the 2008 tournament. That would make it the highest purse on the West Coast swing among regular PGA Tour events. Making it even more attractive to players is reducing the number from four to three amateurs for the Wednesday pro-am.

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