Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker on the 18th hole during the first round of the Honda Classic golf tournament today. ASSOCIATED PRESS
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The PGA Tour is closing on a deal for Detroit-based Quicken Loans to become title sponsor of Tiger Woods’ tournament at Congressional, The Associated Press has learned.
Two people who have been told about the deal said Quicken Loans could begin its sponsorship before the next tournament, to be played June 26-29. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is not completed and has not been announced.
Dan Gilbert, who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, is the chairman and founder Quicken Loans.
It would be a big boost to the Tiger Woods Foundation, which receives the net proceeds from the event currently called the AT&T National. The foundation has created seven Tiger Woods Learning Centers, three of them in the Washington, D.C., area.
AT&T, in the final year of its contract, was not planning to renew the sponsorship. The Dallas-based company announced two years ago that it would sponsor the Byron Nelson Championship starting in 2015. AT&T already is under contract through 2024 as the title sponsor of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on the PGA Tour. It also sponsors a Champions Tour event in San Antonio.
Greg McLaughlin announced Tuesday that he is leaving after 14 years as president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation. McLaughlin was the tournament director of the AT&T National and did well to keep AT&T on as title sponsor through 2014 after the upheaval in Woods’ personal life.
Woods had a personal endorsement deal with AT&T — the logo was on his golf bag — for nine months until the telecommunications giant cut him loose in December 2009.
McLaughlin and PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw declined comment today, saying there was nothing to announce.
The title sponsorship would expand on the sports marketing programs of Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest online home lender. The company closed $70 billion of volume across 50 states in 2012, with web centers in Detroit, Cleveland and the Phoenix area.
The company sponsors NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, along with involvement in the IndyCar Series and with Team Penske. Quicken Loans is title sponsor of a Sprint Cup race in Brooklyn, Mich., on June 15, which is two weeks before the PGA Tour event at Congressional.
It announced late last year it would sponsor the Sprint Cup series race in Phoenix on Nov. 9.
The AT&T National began in 2007 with a military theme built around the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital. It has been held at Congressional for all but two years, in 2010 and 2011, as the course prepared to host the U.S. Open. In those years, it was played at Aronimink outside Philadelphia.
Congressional is under contract through 2014, though discussions are underway to host the tournament every other year.
Three tournaments benefit Woods’ foundation. The others are the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, which began in 2003 and now is part of the FedEx Cup playoffs. The other is the unofficial World Challenge, which announced last year it is moving from California to Isleworth, the club near Orlando where Woods once lived.