Wednesday, April 23, 2008

EDS Re-Ups with Byron Nelson Championship

It was just a few days ago that EDS chief executive officer Ron Rittenmeyer was making noise about being unhappy with his company's involvement with the tournament. In the wake of Byron Nelson's death, course condition problems, and a deleterious change in dates, the company didn't think it was getting its money worth. Or at least, that's what Rittenmeyer seemed to be saying a few days ago.

Today, the tune is different. Today, in fact, EDS extended its agreement to remain title sponsor of the tournament at least through 2014.

Here's the press release from the PGA Tour:

PLANO, Texas – EDS today announced it has extended its commitment as title sponsor of the EDS Byron Nelson Championship with the sponsorship now running through 2014. This is the second early extension agreed to between EDS and the Salesmanship Club of Dallas since EDS became title sponsor in 2003. Financial terms of the extension were not disclosed.

"We believe in this tournament and appreciate the tremendous impact it has in the Dallas community, and we are excited about the opportunity to play a key role in its future," said Ron Rittenmeyer, chairman, president and chief executive officer of EDS. "The EDS Byron Nelson Championship is our hometown PGA TOUR event and provides a great venue for us to attract our key clients, as well as a wonderful opportunity for our employees to get involved in supporting a great cause. The Championship is woven into the fabric of our employee base. This year alone we have over 300 employees from 24 states and 11 foreign countries volunteering at the tournament.

"Most of all, it allows EDS to honor the legacy of Byron Nelson by continuing our work with the Salesmanship Club of Dallas to raise money to help children and families in the Dallas area," Rittenmeyer emphasized. "The EDS Byron Nelson Championship stands alone among PGA TOUR events in its ability to raise money for charity with more than $100 million raised to date. We are already looking forward to leading the drive for the next $100 million."

"EDS, in large part through Ron Rittenmeyer’s leadership, is very much committed to the continued growth and success of the Byron Nelson Championship and the charitable initiatives of the Salesmanship Club," PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said. “We are extremely pleased to be in a position today to announce that EDS will continue this support through 2014."

"We are thrilled with the extension and appreciate the opportunity to continue our relationship with EDS – the best title sponsor on the PGA TOUR," said Randy Engstrom, president of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. "Above all, this agreement secures our programs for the kids of Dallas for the next six years."

According to Rittenmeyer, several critical factors were evaluated before EDS committed to continue as title sponsor, including the completion of the redesign of the TPC of Las Colinas golf course.

"D.A. Weibring and his team, with the support of the Salesmanship Club, the Four Seasons Resort and its owner, Bentley Forbes, did a fantastic job of making the TPC golf course worthy of a premier PGA TOUR event," said Rittenmeyer. “The quality of the course is a key factor in the tournament’s ability to attract the strongest field possible."

The announcement of this extension, coupled with the debut of the redesigned course, assure a bright future for the tournament.

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