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SBD/18/Leagues Governing Bodies
IT'S OFFICIAL, GREG NORMAN AND OTHERS ANNOUNCE "WORLD TOUR"
Published November 18, 1994
Plans for an "ambitious" new int'l golf tour were announced yesterday, "setting up a monumental battle with the PGA Tour over control of the highest and richest realm of professional golf" (Dave Sheinin, MIAMI HERALD, 11/18). THE PARTICULARS: At a news conference, Greg Norman and John Montgomery, formerly of Executive Sports, announced an 8-event, $25M tour for the top 30 players in the world set to begin in March '95. Plans call for each event to have $3M in prize money; the player of the year will receive a $1M bonus. In addition, each player who commits to the tour will receive a $50,000 travel allowance. The SONY rankings will determine the top 30 players. World Tour event sponsors will be allowed 10 exemptions to expand tourney fields to 40. Montgomery said he has spoken with Jack Nicklaus and that Nicklaus would be open to playing under an exemption. Montgomery will be the tour's Exec Dir. His father, John Montgomery, Sr., remains head of Executive Sports, a FL- based event management firm that puts on several tournaments on the PGA, Senior PGA and LPGA Tours (Thomas Bonk, L.A. TIMES, 11/18). PLAYERS, MONEY, SPONSORS: So far the World Tour has "no sponsors, no schedule, no sites and no players, except for Norman." Norman, who would not identify players who said they would play: "The response has been overwhelming." He read a message of support from Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain. Plans call for four events in the U.S. and one each in Canada, Scotland, Spain and Japan. Initial scheduling is for events to be played the week before major tournaments. Norman said the first event is planned the week before the Masters, April 6-9. Nick Price said he stands behind Norman, "but with reservations": "He has my total support, as long as my position on the PGA Tour isn't challenged." Price's "influence is vital to the new tour" since he is the PGA's leading money winner and the No. 1 SONY ranked player (L.A. TIMES, 11/18). Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros reportedly have agreed to play. Norman also noted that Fred Couples and Arnold Palmer were among U.S. players that expressed support. But Couples' agent, Lynn Roach, said, "At this time, one would not be advised to do it and risk losing their membership in the PGA Tour by joining the tour." Both the PGA Tour and European Tour have gone on record as "opposing the new venture." Montgomery said that dates and sites would be released within the next 60 days (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 11/18). FOX'S ROLE: Fox Broadcasting has agreed to underwrite and televise the tour. Montgomery said Fox telecasts would run in the same time periods as PGA Tour events (L.A. TIMES, 11/18). Rudy Martzke notes that Fox's Pat Summerall will likely be the Tour's lead announcer (USA TODAY, 11/18).