Area-based Web.com becomes umbrella sponsor for PGA Tour's developmental circuit [The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville]
(Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 27--The PGA Tour's development tour has a new sponsor and a new name -- and the transition is immediate.
The Jacksonville-based Web.com, a provider of online marketing services targeted for small businesses, has taken over for Nationwide as a sponsor of the tour that will next year provide the main avenue for membership to the PGA Tour.
Nationwide has been the title sponsor since 2003. It opted out last year as the umbrella sponsor and will remain a presenting sponsor of the Tour's event in Columbus, Ohio, the Memorial.
The Web.com Tour's sponsorship begins with this week's United Leasing Championship in Evansville, Ind. and extends through 2021. Web.com also will become an official marketing partner for the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour.
According to the PGA Tour's news release, Web.com's tools and services have gone into the creation of more than 15 million websites and is making close to $500 million in revenue annually.
Web.com Tour president Bill Calfee said the quick transition, which had the blessing of Nationwide, was to help boost an upcoming branding campaign Web.com had planned for July.
"Web.com came into the process fairly late," Calfee said. "We talked to several companies before them, and our first contact was about four months ago. This is a tremendous opportunity to be aligned with such a successful company."
"We are super-excited about this," said Web.com CEO David Brown, a Jacksonville native and a 1972 graduate of Fletcher High School whose company not only survived the dot.com-bust of the late 1990s but has gone from 50,000 customers in 2005 when it went public to more than 3 million. "We've been a quiet company but it's time, after all these years, to build our brand and project it throughout the U.S. and internationally. We looked at all the options [of sports marketing] and very few run almost year-long, in every major market and has the positive reputation the PGA Tour has."
Brown said the charitable component of the tour (Web.com Tour events raised $7.35 million for charity last year) and its role in developing talent was a natural fit for his company.
"When you think about mission alignment, we're a service company for small business, and we're aligning with a company whose focus is to help young golfers, serve local communities where they play and help charity," Brown said. "It's perfect for our corporate DNA."
The Web.com Tour has one area event, the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open. It will be played Oct. 18-21 at the TPC Sawgrass Dye's Valley Course.
The sponsorship is significant with the changes coming to the PGA Tour qualifying process next year. Instead of Tour cards awarded to the top-25 players on the Web.com money list and cards awarded to the top-25 from the national qualifying tournament, all 50 cards will go to survivors of a process that takes the top-75 earners on the Web.com Tour and combines them with Nos. 126 through 200 on the PGA Tour money list for a three-tournament series in the Fall. The national qualifying process will become the primary route of eligibility to the Web.com Tour.
However, Brown said it's likely his company would have signed on regardless of the changes being made, neutering the argument critics of the new qualifying system have made that the PGA Tour was making the changes only to enhance the financial value of the Web.com Tour.
"We would have done it if they had kept the same system," Brown said. "The changes simply make it more valuable to us."
Since 1990, when it was known as the Ben Hogan Tour, players from the developmental circuit have gone on to the top levels of PGA Tour ompetition. When Marc Leishman won the Travelers Championship last week, it was the 334th PGA Tour victory won by a graduate of the Web.com Tour.
Nationwide Tour graduates who have won major championships, The Players or the FedEx Cup include David Duval, Jim Furyk, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink, Tom Lehman, John Daly, Stephen Ames, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, David Toms, Lucas Glover, Shaun Micheel and Ben Curtis.
(c)2012 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)
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