Today’s big news is that South Africa has been chosen to host a new World Golf Championship event. Scheduled to take place for the first time in December of 2012, the Tournament of Hope will carry a prize fund of $10m, making it the richest week in world golf.
Though precise date and venue have yet to be confirmed, the first week in December looks a likely prospect, meaning that Tiger Woods’ Chevron World Challenge and Sun City will likely be muscled from their current berths. Asked about the potential clash with Woods’ event, the Sunshine Tour’s commissioner Gareth Tindall didn’t sound all that open to compromise:
“They will have to move it.”
Holding another one of the WGCs outside the United States is definitely a good thing; I just hope we don’t get a repeat of 2001’s matchplay debacle, when many of the top US stars couldn’t be bothered travelling to Australia. A big chunk of $10m should be too good an opportunity to pass up, though, right?
It looks like Tindall and his fellow executives made the most of the leverage they gained from the fallout surrounding another scheduling conflict: that of this year’s South African Open and the President’s Cup. The right to host the WGC for the next five years was likely offered in exchange for a low-key (ie. free from the threatened boycott of the President’s Cup) move of the South African Open to a less congested part of the calendar.
It’s difficult to read this deal as anything other than an absolutely massive coup for the Sunshine Tour.