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Golf: Masters Tournament 2003 Sponsorship in Jeopardy - 2002-04-11

The first major golf tournament of the year, The Masters, is being played through Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. But as that widely followed event takes place, the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) is dealing with the possibility of losing 13 tournament sponsors for 2003.

Twenty-seven golf tour events have new contracts or new sponsors for next year, but eight tournaments are without sponsors for 2003, and seven others are in limbo, according to a new survey released by Golf World magazine.

Mike Stachura is with Golf World's associate publication Golf Digest, and he told VOA Sports the PGA does not appear to be concerned.

"The Tour maintains that this is a temporary situation, that it will be resolved, they will have sponsors for those events next year," he said. "Let's remember that the Tour has tremendous cash reserves. So, for the most part, these tournaments are not going away."

Stachura believes the PGA will be able to put some kind of sponsorship agreements together for the tournaments that need them.

"I think they're going to have to develop new partnership-type deals, where you may have several sponsors for one event, but, I think, frankly, that's the cost of doing business," said Mr. Stachura.

The golf tour's television contract was signed before last September's terrorist attacks. Some companies are withdrawing tournament sponsorships because of economic trouble or because they are re-evaluating their marketing strategies.

Stachura adds that the PGA has always had the ability to deal with these kinds of issues. He said golf is a good marketing tool, and the PGA tour will attract more sponsors, but the sponsors might pay a lower rate.