The PGA Tour is starting a “Sponsor Value Program” this year in which it assigns as many as 20 players to mingle with sponsors in some capacity for at least an hour.Daniel Chopra will be giving a clinic to sponsors. Scott Piercy, Ted Purdy and Matt Bettencourt are among those having breakfast with sponsors. Ben Curtis and Justin Rose will be going to a park to talk up the Sony Open, do radio interviews and sign autographs.”At the end of the day, it’s a good thing to help out the sponsor any way we can,” Curtis said. “The only bad thing about a week like this is you’d probably rather be at the beach.”
For years, only the top players from the previous year’s money list took part in the Wednesday pro-am. Everyone else didn’t have access to the course that day except for blocks of time on the practice range when everyone was on the golf course. Doing what it can to give sponsors access to more players, the tour came up with a new program away from the course. Roughly the same batch of players will be glad-handing most of the year on Wednesday, depending on the size and strength of the field. The value program also can apply to players like Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk.Rick George, the tour’s chief of operations, said each tournament can ask that five players in the pro-am be shipped to the “Sponsor Value Program” for a clinic or breakfast, moving up the next players available on the money list. Also, top players twice a year can elect to do something other than play in the pro-am. In both cases, there must be a mutual agreement with the tournament and the player.