This year’s PGA Tour event at the historic Riviera Country Club will mark the 25th anniversary of Tiger Woods’ debut on the professional golf tour.
But Woods, 41, will have a much bigger role at next month’s contest at Riviera than he did in 2006, the last time he played a tour event at the historic Pacific Palisades course.
The iconic golfer, who has committed to once again tee off at the tournament now known as the Genesis Open, will also play an organizational role: His Tiger Woods Foundation has taken over management of the 91-year-old event, to be held Feb. 13 to 19.
The tournament, which this year has a prize purse of $7 million, had been managed for the past several years by PGA Tour Inc. of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., which took control after the prior manager, the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce, struggled financially.
One of the event’s hurdles came as a result of a decline in revenue due to the absence of Woods, who first played in the tournament as a 16-year-old amateur in 1992 and has never won at Riviera. The event took an additional hit when Nissan Motor Co. Inc., a 21-year title sponsor, pulled out after moving its North American headquarters from Los Angeles to Nashville, Tenn., in 2006.
After assuming management in 2007, the PGA Tour signed a deal with Chicago-based Northern Trust Co. to become the new sponsor of the tournament. The PGA hired former Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Jerry West as executive director of the event, and he made efforts to bring on new corporate partners, increase the prize purse, and boost its prestige within the local community.
What West failed to do before resigning from his position in 2013 was lure Woods back to the course. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour didn’t want to manage the event long term and sought out a new operator.
The golf association, which prefers to have local partners manage its events, reached a deal with the Woods Foundation in mid-2016 to assume control. The Irvine-based nonprofit, which manages four other pro golf events annually, agreed to relinquish its control role of the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston as part of the arrangement.
Management companies generate revenue primarily through ticket sales and corporate sponsorships, with profits donated to designated charities. The Woods Foundation, which is also the charitable beneficiary of events it manages, raises money to support learning labs focused on a science and math curriculum as well as the Earl Woods college scholarship program, named for Tiger Woods’ late father.
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