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Bridgestone will sponsor PGA tournament in Akron through 2010

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The Bridgestone brand will serve as the title sponsor of the World Golf Championships tournament at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio through 2010.

According to the International Federation of PGA Tours, the tournament, currently titled the World Golf Championships NEC-Invitational, will become the Bridgestone Invitational in 2006.

"We are pleased to welcome the Bridgestone brand as an umbrella sponsor of the World Golf Championships and as title sponsor of the Bridgestone Invitational," says PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.

The sponsorship agreement ensures that the Bridgestone Invitational will remain at the Firestone Country Club in Akron for the next five years. The 2006 Bridgestone Invitational will be held Aug. 22-27.

"Our company has been part of the Akron community for more than a century, and to have the tournament played at Firestone is a wonderful connection with our heritage and to our future," says Mark Emkes, chairman and CEO of Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. and Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC.

Since 1984, the tournament at Firestone Country Club has donated more than $15 million to local charities in the Akron area. The Bridgestone Invitational will continue this tradition of giving and will continue to provide meaningful support to local charities.

"In welcoming Bridgestone, I would also like to express our gratitude to NEC. Its support has helped elevate this tournament into one of the premier championships in golf," says Finchem.

Bridgestone first began making golf balls in 1935 and has a long and distinguished history in the sport. Bridgestone entered the U.S. golf market in 1983, marketing its products under the Precept brand.

Beginning this year, however, the company introduced the "Bridgestone Golf" brand to America as a premium Tour brand, with PGA Tour players Stuart Appleby, Nick Price, Shigeki Maruyama and Fred Couples representing the brand.

The World Golf Championships feature elite players in a variety of competitive formats at venues around the world. Since the series debut in 1999, World Golf Championships have been held in seven countries. When the Algarve World Cup in Portugal is held this November, that number will increase to eight.

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