BP Should Sponsor PGA Tour's St. Jude Classic

Brad TaylorContributor IJune 9, 2010

MEMPHIS, TN - JUNE 14:  Brian Gay of the United States holds the trophy after winning the St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind held on June 14, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen/Getty Images

These days I am sure that the executives at BP Corporation have other things on their minds than this week's Saint Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee. 

The well-known lake up the left side of the fairway at the 18th hole at TPC Southwind is not exactly their definition of a water hazard these days.

As for the PGA Tour, the closest it comes to a cleanup effort is fining Tiger Woods for his language after an errant tee shot.    

Here is an idea for how the Memphis Tour stop and the beleaguered oil company can help each other:  BP should sponsor the 58 year old St. Jude Classic. 

The PGA Tour has many outstanding charities which are the beneficiaries of its weekly golf tournaments.  However, there is just something extra special about a tournament that has donated millions of dollars to the world's leading childhood cancer research center over the past two decades.

The good people at Smith and Nephew have stepped up as a presenting sponsor this year. This gets the Tour event about a quarter of the money it would expect from a title sponsor, which the Classic enjoyed with Memphis-based Fedex before the advent of the Fedex Cup. 

Unfortunately, the future of the event is uncertain as it heads into a potential third year without a title sponsor after former sponsor Stanford Financial Group went down like an 8-iron into a 40 mph gust.

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So here's where BP can step in and save the day for the third-longest running regular event on the PGA Tour schedule.

Imagine the public relations bonanza that would come from the creation of the BP Saint Jude Classic.  Yes, it is true that about all Memphis has in common with BP is a few corner gas stations and a ton of residents whose vacations to the Redneck Riviera on the Florida panhandle have been disrupted this summer.  However, plenty of Tour title sponsors are not based in the city which hosts their namesake event.

It takes about $6.0-$8.0 million to sponsor a stop on the PGA Tour.  That is pocket change for a company which reported 2009 replacement cost profits of $14 billion (and even that was down 45% from the previous year!).

BP has made plenty of mistakes from the moment its Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off of the Louisiana coast.  There will be countless lawsuits in which the company will likely be liable in court.  

If it should sponsor the Saint Jude Classic, however, there might be one small victory in the court of public opinion.

And a lot of grateful Memphians and children at St. Jude. 

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