The times, they are a-changin'

12/29/2006 - Golf

The tournaments don't alter, but the names do. They reflect the changing corporate culture that is prevalent in sports, especially golf. Chrysler becomes Wyndham, Buick becomes Barclays. How do you keep track of it all?

It used to be easy to follow the tour, which simply named its events after the cities in which they were played.

In a few instances, that remains the case today. Pebble Beach is still Pebble Beach, even though the official name is the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Houston, New Orleans and Greensboro, N.C., are longtime tour stops that go by different names but still are identified by their locations.

Still, as the 2007 PGA Tour season is about to begin, no fewer than 12 events will be called something other than what they were last year, starting with the Mercedes-Benz Championship, which added "Benz" to the title after seven years of simply "Mercedes."

That's nothing compared to the BMW Championship. Unless you follow these things closely, how would you know what tournament that is? BMW sponsors a big tournament in Europe as well, making the situation all the more confusing.

A hint. BMW is taking over one of the longest-running events on the PGA Tour. What used to be the Western Open is now the BMW Championship, one of the four "playoff" events that are the conclusion to the season and the FedEx Cup, a yearlong points race that will pay a $10 million bonus to the winner.

You will see FedEx stamped at every tournament through the Tour Championship, as it is the corporate umbrella for the new title chase. It will be in Memphis, too, but just not as prominent. FedEx used to sponsor the PGA Tour event there. Now it's called the Stanford St. Jude Championship. Still with us?

Others that have a different name this year include the Tampa Bay Championship (pending a new sponsor to replace Chrysler), the Arnold Palmer Invitational (which likely still will be referred to as Bay Hill), the CA Championship (a World Golf Championship that is taking the place of American Express, but likely will be referred to as Doral) and the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (won't we just call it Colonial?).

Here's a good one to try to stump your golf-expert friends: Any idea where or what the Travelers Championship is?

Travelers, an insurance company, stepped in when 84 Lumber dropped out as a title sponsor. But the event is not in Pennsylvania. It's in Hartford, where it had been the Buick Championship. Buick decided to cut back to the Buick Open and Buick Invitational only. Hartford, which has had a tour event since 1952 and used to be known as the Greater Hartford Open, appeared out of luck. Then in a matter of days, 84 Lumber bailed, Hartford took the date, and Travelers Championship is the name of the tournament. Got it?

Wyndham Championship is the new name for the Chrysler Classic (not to be confused with Chrysler Championship) of Greensboro.

Speaking of Chrysler, its name remains on the only tournament with a celebrity host, the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Remember when tournaments were named for such people as Sammy Davis Jr., Glen Campbell, Dean Martin, Joe Garagiola, Andy Williams and Bing Crosby? Only Hope's name is left, with comedian George Lopez serving as host.

Palmer joins Byron Nelson as the only tour players to have tournaments named in their honor (Arnold Palmer Invitational, EDS Byron Nelson Championship).

And then, if you really want to get confused, look to the Fall Finish events that follow the Tour Championship. Only the Valero Texas Open and the Frys.com Open in Las Vegas have the same name as last year. Then there is the Fry's Electronics Open (not to be confused with Frys.com), a new event in Arizona. The B.C. Open is gone, but its final venue now hosts the eponymous Turning Stone Resort Championship. The former Southern Farm Bureau Classic is now the Viking Classic. The Funai Classic is now the Walt Disney World Resort Classic.

Good luck trying to keep track of it all.

By the time you do, it might change again.

Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at harig@sptimes.com.