San Diego Open nets sponsor in 11th hour

Lucas Glover hits a tee shot during the final round of the 2009 Buick Invitational on the South Course at Torrey Pines.

Lucas Glover hits a tee shot during the final round of the 2009 Buick Invitational on the South Course at Torrey Pines.

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The PGA Tour secured a title sponsor – at least for this year – for the San Diego Open, one of the cornerstones of the West Coast Swing.

Formerly known as the Buick Invitational, the San Diego event now will be called the Farmers Insurance Open. The tournament had been sponsorless since it lost the backing of Buick, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year.

The event, which begins next week at Torrey Pines Golf Course, never was in danger of being canceled this year. Its host organization, the Century Club of San Diego, and the Tour maintained they had sufficient funds to “bridge” a title sponsor gap until one could be found.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but it does include a long-term option. Keeping the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies in the fold beyond 2010 would be a major boon for the Tour, which has several title sponsorships coming up for renewal after this season.

The deal actually is between the Tour and the Farmers Exchanges, which as a group are the third-largest personal lines insurer in the United States and the largest auto insurer in California.

“Leaders step up and step in when opportunities arise and when needs are great,” said F. Robert Woudstra, Farmers CEO. “We clearly see this sponsorship as an extension of our ongoing commitment to Southern California, the San Diego area and all the communities across the United States in which we serve our customers.”

Added Tour commissioner Tim Finchem: “Although this has been finalized on such short notice, it represents a substantial investment on Farmers' part to help in the tournament's success. We look forward to continuing our discussions with Farmers officials following the Farmers Insurance Open in regard to the possibility of a longer-term partnership.”

Farmers is a trade name and refers either to Farmers Group Inc. or the Farmers Exchanges.

Farmers Group Inc., a management and holding company, along with its subsidiaries, is wholly owned by the Zurich Financial Services Group. The latter serves as title sponsor of the Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The Farmers Exchanges are three reciprocal insurers (Farmers Insurance Exchange, Fire Insurance Exchange and Truck Insurance Exchange), including their subsidiaries and affiliates, owned by their policyholders, and managed by Farmers Group Inc.

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