SBD/October 21, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

PGA Tour Officially Announces Latin American Tour Will Begin Next Fall

The PGA Tour “took its largest step into the Latin American market on Thursday with the announcement of a new tour,” according to Sean Martin of GOLFWEEK. The new circuit, meant to “spur growth in the region, also will provide players a new way to qualify for the Nationwide Tour.” PGA Tour Latinoamérica will be “an 11-event circuit that runs from September to December 2012 with events in Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru.” A complete schedule is “expected to be released soon.” The Tour said that it “could conduct up to 14 events in 2013.” The PGA Tour also is “searching for an umbrella sponsor for the circuit, similar to the sponsorship of the Nationwide Tour.” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem in a statement said, “We see this as an opportunity to help in the further development of elite players across the region.” Golfer Jhonattan Vegas, who is from Venezuela, said, “That’s the best thing that can happen for Latin American golf. We have lots of phenomenal players that need the opportunity.” Latin America’s current tour, the Tour de las Americas, will “play a series of events early next year that will help establish priority rankings for the new tour.” After those events, the Tour de las America’s staff and schedule “will be integrated into the new structure of PGA Tour Latinoamérica.” Tour de las Americas Commissioner Henrique Lavie “will become the new tour’s executive director.” PGA Tour VP Jack Warfield has been named PGA Tour Latinoamérica COO. Martin noted an “undetermined number of Nationwide Tour cards will be offered to PGA Tour Latinoamérica’s top performers.” PGA Tour Latinoamérica is the PGA Tour’s “first new circuit since 1990, when the Ben Hogan Tour (known today as the Nationwide Tour) was formed” (GOLFWEEK.com, 10/20). Author John Feinstein said, "My question is, are we leading eventually to some kind of a world tour, where there’s one commissioner and one set of rules, which I think would be a good thing for golf” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 10/21).
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