Jan 25, 2010 at 03:33 PM
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PGA Feeling The Pinch From Tiger's Absence?

Without Tiger Woods, does the PGA Tour's entire business model crumble?

The Wall Street Journal today writes:

Without his unmatched star power, the value of Tour sponsorships, through which companies cover most tournament prizes, could be sharply lower. And without a rich flow of cash from those sponsorships, the PGA Tour's economic model is cracked.

"It's a fairly tough conversation for the PGA Tour right now," said Tony Ponturo, former director of sports marketing for major sponsor Anheuser-Busch InBev and a board member of the women's LPGA Tour. "Maybe the marketplace doesn't allow for million-dollar first prizes anymore."

The PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines may have been the sharpest example of the Tour's new reality.

Farmers Insurance snapped up the Torrey Pines PGA Tour event at a fire sale price only a week before the tournament.

"The good news is we got a discount. The bad news is we only have one week to do anything with the sponsorship," WSJ quoted Bob Woudstra, the CEO of Farmers Insurance, who became interested just 10 days ago when the Tour offered a one-year deal at a reduced price.

Still, the PGA Tour has three title sponsorships to fill for the 2010 season, while WSJ reports that 13 remain open for 2011.