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PGA Tour's longest running title sponsor, Honda, will not renew contract

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The PGA Tour’s longest running title sponsor is stepping away after next year’s Honda Classic, multiple sources have told GolfChannel.com.

Honda Motors had been the title sponsor of the south Florida stop since 1982 but, as first reported by Golfweek.com, the company will step away after next year’s event, the byproduct of a condensed PGA Tour schedule and changing corporate priorities.

The event, which will be played in February at PGA National, became an early-season staple for international players starting their run-up to the Masters but has struggled in recent years to attract a strong field on an increasingly crowded calendar.

This year’s event, for example, was wedged between the Genesis Invitational, which is hosted by Tiger Woods and played at venerable Riviera Country Club, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship, an invitational and the Tour’s flagship event.

Although the Tour’s makeover of the schedule starting next year, which will squeeze the Honda field even more, wouldn’t have helped an already difficult situation, the move away from title sponsorship was already underway before this season, according to various sources.

The event had struggled to find its place in the Florida swing and bounced around various courses before landing at PGA National in 2007. The same year, Barbara Nicklaus became chair of the event and the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation became the primary charitable beneficiary of the event, making it a must-play for many of the game’s top players who live in south Florida.

That appeal, however, faded in recent years and the event ranked fourth this year out of the four Florida swing events in strength of field according to the world ranking.