PGA Tour, China Golf Association Agree On New 12-Event Circuit In Far East
The PGA Tour will be "partners in a new tour in China that starts next year with 12 tournaments," according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. The China Tour-PGA Tour China Series will "begin in March with 12 events that have purses of about $200,000." Still to be determined are "qualifying procedures, and how many of the top finishers will have access to the Web.com Tour." It is a "similar model to what the PGA Tour has done in Canada and Latin America," as the Tour "owns those two circuits." The new series is a "partnership with the China Golf Association and the China Olympic Sports Industry." The CGA is the "key to every golf deal in China, so it was important for the PGA Tour to have a partnership." While it was "once thought the PGA Tour would try to get a piece of the action in China, instead it is a partner in a tour that gives Chinese players a circuit of their own." Ferguson wrote the future of golf in China "was helped by the sport being added to the Olympic program" in '16 (AP, 11/3). REUTERS' Andrew Both reported the new tour will feature fields "not restricted to Chinese players" and "expected to be between 120 and 156 players." PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem "dismissed concerns that the new tour would pose a threat to the European and OneAsia Tours, which have had a presence in China for several years." Both wrote PGA Tour China "won't be an immediate threat to the European or OneAsia Tours because of the small purses but that might change should it prove successful and grow" (REUTERS, 11/3).
FOCUSED IN ON CHINA: GolfChannel.com's Rex Hoggard said the move "speaks a lot to how the PGA Tour has focused in on the Asian market, just not globally but specifically China." Hoggard: "You can just imagine the impact this would have just not competitively, but consider the TV options and everything else that goes into this” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 11/3). He added the news "appears to be part of a systematic expansion by the Tour into China and the Asian market." For the "first time this year the WGC-HSBC Champions and last week’s CIMB Classic were official, full-FedEx Cup points events on the Tour schedule and in August the Tour hired Greg Gilligan to run PGA Tour (Beijing) Management Consulting." Gilligan was hired to “increase (the Tour’s) efforts in China.” The PGA Tour "did not announce" who would be commissioner of the new tour (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 11/3).
HEADING EAST: GOLF.com's weekly roundtable discussed the PGA Tour's move into China. Golf Magazine's Josh Sens said, "They're going there because that's where the money is." Golf Magazine's Joe Passov said, "Except where it concerns money -- and nothing else -- I'm mystified by these globalization ambitions from the PGA of America and the PGA Tour. Is this like the NFL games in London? Expand the brand? Unless Tiger Woods is in the field, I don't understand why Asian fans or sponsors would have any interest." SI's Gary Van Sickle: "The Tour is following the money. There are anxious sponsors, apparently, in Asia, and the Tour wants to get into their wallets since the American market is largely tapped." Golf Magazine's Cameron Morfit: "Like so much else that the Tour or any other business does, this is a calculated bet on the future." SI's Mark Godich: "Growing the game means exploring untapped markets" (GOLF.com, 11/3).