Web.com to sponsor PGA Tour's feeder circuit
Monday, July 2, 2012
The PGA Tour’s developmental circuit has a new name, effective immediately. What was formerly the Nationwide Tour will now be known as the Web.com Tour. The new sponsor’s reign begins this week at the tour’s event in Indiana and is scheduled to continue for 10 years.
The announcement of Web.com’s sponsorship ends months of questions about the developmental circuit’s future. Nationwide Insurance previously announced that it would not renew its sponsorship when it expired at year’s end.
Web.com, a publicly-traded company based in Jacksonville, Fla., was formed in 1997 and currently has 1,800 employees and approximately $500 million in annual revenues. David Brown, the company’s CEO, said the sponsorship was attractive because it allows the company to access markets across the country through the Web.com, Champions and PGA tours and offer its services to the players, tournaments and charities that are part of all three tours.
The tour drastically, and controversially, changed its qualifying structure in order to lure a sponsor to succeed Nationwide. It seems the changes had little to do with Web.com’s sponsorship decision, though.
“Certainly we think it’s very beneficial, but that decision had already been made by the Tour when we engaged,” Web.com CEO David Brown said. “So it was nice to have but not a fundamental part of our decision‑making process.”
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said the negotiations with Web.com had “little to do with” the restructuring of the PGA Tour’s qualifying structure.
The announcement comes just as the tour begins its second televised event of the season at this week’s inaugural United Leasing Championship in Newburgh, Ind. The event is the first of four in a row that are scheduled to be televised.
The new sponsorship is scheduled to run through 2021. Web.com will also become an official marketing partner of the PGA Tour, and will offer its services to players and events on all the PGA, Champions and Web.com tours.
The new qualifying structure, which takes effect next year, will no longer allow players to earn PGA Tour cards at Q-School. Instead, players will earn PGA Tour cards through a three-tournament series that will pit the top Web.com Tour performers against the bottom of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup points list. Only Web.com Tour playing privileges will be available via Q-School.
The tour, which formed in 1990, was previously known as the Hogan, Nike and Buy.com tours.