Yokohama Tire to sponsor Prattville LPGA tournament

(Source: RTJ at Capitol Hill/Facebook)
(Source: RTJ at Capitol Hill/Facebook)

PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - The Prattville LPGA tournament event has a new title sponsor.

Yokohama Tire signed a three-year deal to be the main sponsor for the event.

The 2014 tournament will be called the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic and is scheduled for Sept. 18 through 21 on the Senator Course at Capitol Hill along the RTJ Golf trail.

Professional golf has come to Robert Trent Jones Trail in Prattville for the last 11 of 13 years. There was no pro golf last year but the city's mayor says that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

"The volunteers started to slip away a little and they were getting tired," said Mayor Gillespie.

It is an enormous undertaking. It takes around 300 volunteers to make it work. The LPGA tournament typically brings in around 10,000 spectators and gains worldwide exposure on The Golf Channel. This year's money purse will be $1.3 million and the number of players will be slightly smaller.

"You can't put a price on the exposure central Alabama gets. It lets the world know this area is open for business," said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.

The story of how Yokohama Tires got involved is unusual.

The company was looking at building a plant, and it came down to Alabama and Mississippi. In the end Mississippi won by outbidding Alabama by $100 million in incentives. It was during the early negotiations with Alabama that Yokohama expressed an interest in the LPGA Tour.

Yokohama's Director of Marketing conceded the tire company probably wouldn't be sponsoring its first golf tournament in the United States had it not been the relationships it built in the state.

"This is going to be a good fit for us and we're looking forward to being here," said Andrew Briggs.

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