Akron. Ohio--The Bridgestone brand will take over the title sponsorship of the World Golf Championships tournament at Firestone Country Club in Akron beginning next year as part of a five-year deal that runs through 2010.
The Bridgestone Invitational will replace the NEC Invitational as part of the World Golf Championships, which are sanctioned and organised by the International Federation of PGA Tours. The agreement was announced Aug. 22 during the final round of the NEC event in Akron.
Bridgestone officials look at the sponsorship as a global marketing opportunity that can benefit both the firms Bridgestone- and Firestone-brand tyres, along with Bridgestone Golf's line of golf balls and clubs.
Bridgestone claims the No. 1 spot in the Japanese golf market and has sold its Precept-brand ball as a mid-level offering in the US since 1985. Earlier this year, however, it introduced its Bridgestone-brand ball here to compete in the premium end of the golf ball market.
The agreement calls for the event to stay in Akron--where the company employs about 1,000--throughout the five-year sponsorship period.