Specialty foods retailer Dean & DeLuca has become title sponsor of Fort Worth’s annual PGA Tour event at Colonial Country Club.
The Dean & DeLuca Invitational, set for May 26-29, will mark the first time in 70 years that the longest-tenured tournament at a single venue does not contain the word “Colonial” in its title.
Dean & DeLuca signed a six-year agreement, scheduled to run through 2021, the event’s 75th anniversary. The company replaces Crowne Plaza, which had the longest run as title sponsor, starting in 2007.
Crowne Plaza informed Colonial officials before last year that it would not renew the nine-year partnership, primarily citing a shift in marketing strategies. The deal with Dean & DeLuca ended a year of negotiations with potential sponsors, securing the tour’s final title sponsorship for this season’s events.
Dean & DeLuca, founded in 1977, is an international brand in the fine food industry, known primarily for its gift baskets and catering. The company, based in Wichita, Kan., also operates full markets and cafés in the United States and internationally. The sponsorship fits the company’s expansion plans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as well as locations near other PGA Tour events.
The tournament, which began in 1946 as the Colonial National Invitation, has had four other title sponsors. Southwestern Bell was the first (1989-94). The tournament went without a sponsor in 1995.
Ben Hogan won the inaugural event, the first of his five titles at Colonial. A bronze statue of Colonial’s only five-time winner stands beside the clubhouse overlooking the renowned course, known as “Hogan’s Alley.”
The Fort Worth event has become one of the tour’s charity leaders, generating $80 million over the last two decades, including a record $9.1 million last year. Defending champion Chris Kirk claimed his fourth title last year by one stroke over Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Bohn.