Farmers Insurance to sponsor tourney

Updated: March 15, 2010, 4:50 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Farmers Insurance must have liked what it saw at Torrey Pines in its 10 days as a title sponsor. It decided Monday to sign up for the next four years, filling an important hole of title sponsorship in the PGA Tour schedule.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem did not disclose financial terms, saying only that the purse next year would be $5.8 million, an increase of $500,000 from this year.

The PGA Tour now has 15 tournaments with title sponsor agreements through at least 2014, with 10 others signed through 2012.

Torrey Pines is regarded a prime tournament in the West Coast swing because it typically is the first to be shown on network TV, and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have opened their seasons there the last several years.

Buick had been the title sponsor since 1992 until GM filed for bankruptcy.

"This is a very solid deal financially," Finchem said. "It will allow us to increase the purse at the tournament starting next year, which will get it squarely into the range of purse levels at that time of the year on the PGA Tour."

He said prize money will increase during the four-year agreement, and he expects the charitable contributions to grow.

Woods has not played Torrey Pines since winning the 2008 U.S. Open, missing one year while recovering from knee surgery and this year during his indefinite break from a sex scandal that has kept him out of the game for the last four months.

Ben Crane won the Farmers Insurance Open this year.

Bob Woudstra, the chief executive of Farmers Insurance, said Woods' history at Torrey Pines was not a deal breaker.

"We did not make an evaluation on any one player within the tournament," he said. "We obviously know that Tiger is a big force on the tour. But, really, we looked at it with a lot of the young, upcoming players. And it's never going to be one person that makes or breaks something."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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