"Besides the direct financial impact, the tournament advertises toward a market we work hard for: the golfer part."
Hawaii Tourism Authority
Sony Open extends isle stay 4 more years
The 40-year-old event brought Hawaii about $13.5 million in spending last year
The Sony Open in Hawaii will remain in Hawaii at least four more years.
And it wasn't a tap-in.
Officials from the PGA Tour and Sony Corp. were to announce a new contract today to keep the tournament here through 2010, sources told the Star-Bulletin.
Sony has been the title sponsor of the Waialae Country Club event -- formerly known as the Hawaiian Open -- since 1999.
There was serious speculation that Sony would move its sponsorship elsewhere.
"It came close to going to Los Angeles," a source said.
Financial terms were not available last night. The current contract runs through next year's event, which will be played Jan. 9-15.
The Sony Open in Hawaii is the first full-field event of the PGA Tour season. Prize money has increased each year, and will total $5.5 million in 2006. The tournament has raised $500,000 for local nonprofit agencies each of the past three years.
Rex Johnson of the Hawaii Tourism Authority said last year's tournament brought in an estimated $13.5 million in spending by around 5,600 visitors, plus around $850,000 in taxes. He said losing the event would be a significant hit to the state's tourism trade marketing, as well.
"Besides the direct financial impact, the tournament advertises toward a market we work hard for: the golfer part," Johnson said. "During that time of year, North America is pretty much frozen up. We're able to show some nice weather and a nice golf course."
Vijay Singh won last year's tournament by making up a final-round four-stroke deficit. He broke a two-year winning streak by Ernie Els.
The first Hawaiian Open was played in 1965 and was won by Gay Brewer. Local golfers Ted Makalena (1966) and David Ishii (1990) have also won. United Airlines was title sponsor from 1991 through 1998.
Today's announcement was scheduled to be made at Gov. Linda Lingle's office. Lingle; Sony executives Don Kim, Masao Morita and Mike Dyer; PGA Tour Vice President Ric Clarson; and Friends of Hawaii Charities Vice President Bert Kobayashi were expected to attend.
Michelle Wie, a 16-year-old Punahou School junior, might have had some impact on Sony's decision to extend the contract here.
Wie played in the 2004 and 2005 Sony Opens as a sponsor's exemption entry. She failed to make the cut both times, shooting 72-68--140 in 2004 (missing the cut by one stroke) and 75-74--149 last year.
It has not been announced yet, but it is likely Wie will accept another exemption from Sony for the 2006 tournament.
She announced that she was turning professional at a news conference at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental Hawaii on Oct. 5. Sony, whose logo adorns her golf bag, is among the major contributors to Wie's $10 million in endorsement deals.
Wie was disqualified from her pro debut at the LPGA's Samsung World Championship at Bighorn in Palm Desert, Calif., two weeks ago. She appeared to have finished in fourth place, but was knocked out of the tournament for turning in an incorrect scorecard after it was determined she took an illegal drop during the third round.
The contract of the Mercedes Championship on Maui, which kicks off the PGA Tour at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, is also up for renewal after the January 2006 event.