New sponsor for PGA Tour's winners-only event at Kapalua

By Doug FergusonAugust 17, 2017, 4:11 pm

Wisconsin-based Sentry Insurance has agreed to a five-year deal to become the title sponsor of the winners-only PGA Tour event at Kapalua, a move that strengthens the Tour's commitment to starting the new year in Hawaii.

The Sentry Tournament of Champions will be Jan. 4-7 and marks the 20th straight time the PGA Tour starts a new year on Maui.

''We just felt this was a perfect opportunity for Sentry to tell its story on a national basis, which you can do through tournament sponsorship,'' said Pete McPartland, the chairman, chief executive and president of the 113-year-old mutual insurance company.

South Korean broadcaster SBS had been the title sponsor and briefly farmed it out to Hyundai until the automaker switched its sponsorship to Los Angeles and the Genesis Open at Riviera. SBS had been looking for a new sponsor to take over before its deal expired at the end of 2019.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed Wednesday.

Sentry becomes the new sponsor during a strong youth movement in golf that has invigorated the winners-only event at Kapalua. The Tournament of Champions had lost some luster when Tiger Woods stopped playing after 2005, a few years after Phil Mickelson decided not to start his year in Hawaii.

PGA champion Justin Thomas returns to defend his title, after he held off Hideki Matsuyama a year ago. The previous winners were British Open champion Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, two-time major champion Zach Johnson and former U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson.

McPartland described Sentry as a ''quiet brand'' that had grown rapidly and decided a few years ago to become more aggressive in extending that brand. Stephanie Smith, vice president of marketing and brand management, spearheaded a change in the company's logo from the iconic Capt. John Parker of the Colonial era to one that copies the concept of yin and yang with an ''S'' visible in the middle.

The deal has additional meaning to Smith, whose parents had a vacation home on Maui. Her mother has been a volunteer at the Tournament of Champions for 10 years and expects to do it again.

''Now she gets a shirt with my company on it,'' Smith said.

McPartland said the company hoped to benefit immediately from more name recognition. He said the partnership with the PGA Tour would allow it to entertain more top clients at Kapalua and other tournaments throughout the schedule.

Otherwise, only the name will change.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan had said last year that the tour was contemplating a scenario where the LPGA and the PGA Tour play a winners-only format at the same venue. ''That has not materialized here,'' Monahan said.

Meanwhile, the Sony Open in Honolulu is the week after the Tournament of Championship. Its title sponsorship ends in 2018. For years there was concern that if one of the tournaments had left, it would be more difficult to stage the other as a single event in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

''We have been playing golf in Hawaii for over 50 years,'' Monahan said. ''And the two tournaments present a strong start to the calendar year that we looking forward to continuing.''

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Cart on the green


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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

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Finances


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Reportedly fake TIME covers


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Pros comment on the president

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm