AKRON, Ohio — Bridgestone became the fourth title sponsor this year to renew its contract with the PGA Tour.
The tire and golf equipment company agreed to back the World Golf Championship event at Firestone Country Club through 2014. Commissioner Tim Finchem and Bridgestone officials announced the agreement Sunday before the start of the tournament's final round.
Bridgestone joins Accenture (Match Play), Zurich (New Orleans) and Travelers (Hartford), which also renewed contracts through 2014. Finchem calls this a solid trend in a down economy.
"We seem to be now in a very solid trend as we look out past this downturn of having an increasing number of our sponsors step up and move forward with us over the next half a decade," Finchem said. "And for that we are delighted."
The tour has signed a new sponsor in SBS for Kapalua, replacing Mercedes-Benz, through 2020; and The Greenbrier Classic, which replaces the Buick Open. Buick has backed out of its sponsorship of tour events, as has the namesake of the US Bank Championship in Milwaukee.
Finchem revealed earlier this year that FBR, sponsor of the Phoenix Open, would not renew its sponsorship deal when it runs out in 2010.
Despite the global recession, Bridgestone President and CEO Mark Emkes said it was important to remain linked with golf.
"Even in a down economy, we still need to sell Bridgestone golf balls, clubs and tires and Firestone tires."
The Bridgestone tournament will remain a WGC event.
Finchen said the new deal would be well received by the world's top player. Tiger Woods has won the Bridgestone Invitational six times at Firestone Country Club.
"I think the happiest person today might be Tiger," he said.