Verizon out as sponsor in Hilton Head

HILTON HEAD ISLAND -Verizon will not return as the title sponsor of Hilton Head Island's annual PGA Tour event after its contract expires in 2010.

Officials from the Heritage Classic Foundation, which runs the tournament, and the PGA Tour on Tuesday announced the search for a new title sponsor to replace Verizon, which has sponsored the tournament since 1987 under several corporate banners.

"It's not the best time to be out there shopping and all, but we have a very special, unique product," tournament director Steve Wilmot said. "We feel very strongly that a title sponsor will be in place."

Verizon will continue to sponsor PGA Tour events but not as a title sponsor. That could include a continued relationship with the Heritage.

"Verizon has been a valuable partner of the Heritage Classic Foundation, the PGA Tour and the Hilton Head community since 1987, and we are grateful for all that it has done as title sponsor," Simon Fraser, chairman of the Heritage Classic Foundation, said in a statement. "While we are certainly disappointed that this long-standing partnership is coming to an end, we look forward to working with Verizon for the final year of its commitment and hosting a very successful tournament."

The PGA Tour event has been played at Hilton Head's Harbour Town Golf Links since 1969. Brian Gay won last year's event with a score of 20-under, breaking a 13-year-old scoring record.