The PGA Tour event at Riviera in Los Angeles will be called the Genesis Open, the only title sponsor on tour to be known by a specific brand.
Hyundai Motor America took over as sponsor in January of the PGA Tour’s tournament in Los Angeles that dates to 1926. A month later, it designated the Tiger Woods Foundation as the host organization that will run the event. All that was missing, until Monday, was a name of the event.
Genesis is Hyundai’s global luxury car brand.
While the number of automakers who sponsor PGA Tour events has dwindled in recent years, the other two active sponsors – Honda and BMW – use the company name for the tournament title. Hyundai previously was title sponsor of the winners-only event at Kapalua, which was called the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
In making the announcement, the company did not use Hyundai anywhere in its press release.
”This tournament is one of the most prominent on the PGA Tour and is played at one of the world’s best courses, so it was a natural fit for our first major sports marketing program,” said Erwin Raphael, general manager of the Genesis brand in the U.S.
The Los Angeles event typically has the strongest field on the West Coast among regular PGA Tour events that do not have built-in advantages, such as a World Golf Championship. Bubba Watson is the defending champion.
Hyundai Motor America replaced Northern Trust as title sponsor when the Chicago-based bank moved its sponsorship to the New York area to take the opening FedEx Cup playoff event. The tour has not found a replacement sponsor for Kapalua.
An even bigger change was bringing in the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Los Angeles was the first PGA Tour event that Woods played as a 16-year-old amateur in 1992. His foundation headquarters are in southern California, and the first Tiger Woods Learning Center was built in Orange County.
”I look forward to continuing to make a positive impact on the lives of children in Southern California, where my foundation is based, and am appreciative of the role Genesis will play in this mission,” Woods said.
Still to be determined is whether Woods will play next year (Feb. 16-19) at Riviera. He has never missed a tournament run by his foundation when healthy, and he donates whatever money he wins to the foundation. Woods also is host of the Quicken Loans National and Hero World Challenge, along with the Deutsche Bank Championship, which is in its last year as the title sponsor.
His hometown tournament is the one event that Woods has played the most times – nine as a pro – without ever winning.
Woods has not played this year as he recovers from his third back surgery. He said on the PGA Tour telecast that he is still not ready to compete.
”Put it this way: I want to play, I don’t know if I will,” Woods said when asked if there as a chance he might not play this year. ”But I want to, and I’m trying. I’m doing my workouts, sometimes two or three times a day. I’m working my tail off.”