IMG Acquires U.S. PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, IGP Sports Group

Sports agency IMG Worldwide Inc. will take over management of the U.S. PGA Tour’s Honda Classic as part of an acquisition of IGP Sports & Entertainment Group and will open a new golf office in North Palm Beach, Florida, the companies said.

As part of the acquisition, IGP founder Ken Kennerly, a 21- year veteran of player and event management, will join IMG as head of its North American golf events management division.

By adding Kennerly and his IGP staff, IMG gains a management presence in the South Florida area, where many of professional golf’s top players now live, including current IMG clients Luke Donald, Camilo Villegas, Ernie Els and Michelle Wie. IGP currently represents PGA Tour players Glen Day, Mathias Gronberg, Dicky Pride and Duffy Waldorf. Pride and Waldorf will move to IMG with Kennerly.

“The truth is, we should have done this years ago,” Guy Kinnings, head of IMG’s golf division, said in an interview.

Financial terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed by IMG in a press release announcing the agreement.

Since Kennerly’s IGP company in 2006 took over management of the Honda Classic, which is played at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the tournament has enjoyed renewed appeal among tour players, in part due to its proximity to their homes.

Last month, IMG client Ryo Ishikawa of Japan played in the event for the first time, an appearance that Kennerly said wouldn’t have been possible without IMG’s encouragement.

“With Honda, a Japanese company, being our title sponsor, that was big,” Kennerly said in an interview. “He is the Tiger Woods of Japan.”

IMG, which was founded by Mark McCormack in 1960 with a handshake agreement between him and Arnold Palmer, owns, manages and stages over 50 tournaments around the world. The Cleveland, Ohio-based company recently took over management of the LPGA Tour’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first of five major events on the top women’s golf tour.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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