GM Returns as PGA Tour Partner

After withdrawing as a sponsor of PGA Tour events in 2009 following its bankruptcy filing in 2009, General Motors is back as a supporter of golf's premier professional tour.

On Monday, GM officials and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced that the carmaker will be the title sponsor of the $8.5 million WGC-Cadillac Championship, which will be played on the TPC Blue Monster at Florida's Doral Golf Resort in early March. Last year the event was called the WGC-CA Championship.

"We also look forward to exploring opportunities with Cadillac to bring PGA Tour tournament golf back to Detroit," said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem in a statement.

GM is also talking to the PGA Tour about adding a new event in Detroit. GM ended its sponsorship of the Buick Open tournament in Grand Blanc, Mich., also in 2009.

As Finchem said later in a press conference announcing the WGC-Cadillac Championship: "There have been rumors that we are in discussions with Cadillac about a possible relationship in Detroit, as well, and I'll just confirm those rumors, that we are in preliminary discussions related to the possibility of bringing PGA Tour golf back to Michigan and in particular to the Detroit area. And we'll see how that goes. We are in the preliminary stages.

"But I'll confirm that those rumors are true and that obviously as we said when we exited Michigan a couple years ago, we would love to go back to what is a great sports market and a great golfing market in the Detroit area, and we look forward to continuing those discussions with Cadillac."

After significantly scaling back its promotional activities following its bankruptcy, GM has been rebuilding its marketing efforts. The PGA announcement is "the first sign of what we have been working on," said Cadillac spokesman Nick Twork from Doral, where he was scouting locations to place Cadillacs, including floating structures on water hazards.

When GM saw a drop in sales and profits in 2008, it also terminated a deal with Tiger Woods and halted advertising in such high-profile events as the Super Bowl and Academy Awards.

Joel Ewanick, head of GM marketing, has said reducing its brands from eight to four makes it possible to boost TV advertising in pricier spots again. GM will have a presence during the Super Bowl in February, spokesman Pat Morrissey confirmed.

Also during his press conference, Finchem said that the PGA Tour's 2011 schedule will be released Thursday, December 2. As for new sponsors of other tournaments on the agenda, the commissioner said: "We'll be making a couple more announcements in the next couple of days. They'll be reflected in the schedule you see on Thursday. We will have one or two tournaments that don't show a title sponsor next year out of our tournaments. But 100 percent of our tournaments are fully funded.

"We are in a variety of discussions. We don't anticipate a problem. We're virtually 100 percent sponsored, just short of it. But we don't anticipate any issues there.

"It's a question of matching - right now on the one hand we have more tournaments than we can put on the schedule, candidly, but we have to be loyal to our historic tournament partners, and that's what we're trying to do.

"We're going through a bit of a transition. But we'll have a full schedule for you, 47 events next year, and playing opportunities for players look very solid. Our prize money will be up a little bit. But I'll give a full report on this after the Chevron World Challenge next week, and we'll do sort of a year-end report, so kind of stay tuned. But we're very, very pleased with where we're coming out."