Farmers Insurance renews Torrey Pines sponsorship

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Farmers Insurance stepped in at the last minute in 2010 when the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines risked going without a sponsor.

Now the company is in for the long haul.

Farmers Insurance and the Century Club of San Diego, which runs the tournament, announced Tuesday that it will extend its title sponsorship for five more years through 2019. The new agreement starts after next year’s tournament in January.

That will give Farmers a 10-year run at Torrey Pines, which previously had Buick as a title sponsor for 18 years until the downturn in the auto industry.

Tiger Woods is the defending champion, winning last year for the seventh time. He also won a U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, the last of his 14 majors.

Along with typically attracting the game’s two biggest stars _ Woods and Phil Mickelson _ the tournament has one of the larger fields on the West Coast swing because it uses the North and South courses at Torrey Pines.

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RACE TO DUBAI: Ernie Els was among those irritated by the European Tour policy that forces its members to play in at least two of three “Final Series” events leading to the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Els has decided not even to bother with Dubai.

“We used to play seven events and you could keep your card in Europe,” he said. “Now you have to play more than in America, which is the direction they’re going in. I just think it’s the wrong one. I’ve just got to reassess what’s going to happen. In my view, it’s an absolute joke. I’ve been a member of the tour for 20 years and they’re making it impossible to keep playing.”

Els could have skipped an appearance fee in Macau, though it still puts a burden on players to play a global schedule.

The European Tour already was stung by the mandatory starts when Joost Luiten hit one tee shot in the BMW Masters to give himself a chance to be eligible, though it kept Justin Walters out of the tournament.

Els said the European Tour didn’t care when asked how it responded to his criticism.

That might not be true. The tour is said to be reviewing the policy for next year, especially in light of players with families in America and a worldwide schedule.

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