The PGA Tour announced Thursday it will back the launch of a new pro circuit, consisting of 11 events in seven countries across Latin America, including Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru. Organized by the Tour, Tour de Las Americas, National Golf Federations, promoters and host clubs in the region, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica will be staged from September through December 2012.
More details from the media blast:
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL (October 20, 2011)—The PGA TOUR announced today the creation of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, a professional tour initially consisting of 11 events played in seven countries across Latin America.
“We are delighted to announce the launch of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “This expansion into Latin America, when combined with what the Nationwide Tour has been able to accomplish in the region in recent year’s, is part of the natural progression for golf which continues to grow globally. We see this as an opportunity to help in the further development of elite players across the region. The timing is right, with South America hosting its first ever Olympic Games, which includes golf’s return to the competition for the first time in more than 100 years. The Latin American market has already produced several PGA TOUR stars, and one of our goals for this tour is to help develop the Latin American stars of the future.”
The 11-event schedule, the result of a collaborative effort among the PGA TOUR, Tour de Las Americas, National Golf Federations, promoters and host clubs in the region, will be contested from September through December 2012. In 2013, the plan is to have up to 14 events on the schedule. The events will take players through various parts of the region including Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru. A complete schedule will be released in the near future.
“PGA TOUR Latinoamérica will afford players in the region a chance to improve and advance to one of the highest levels of professional golf, the Nationwide Tour, which could in turn lead to players earning their PGA TOUR cards,” said Henrique Lavie, an early and ongoing supporter of this concept, and Commissioner of the Tour de las Americas. “This potential pathway to the higher levels of professional golf is something that is an improvement for the players in the region.”
PGA TOUR Latinoamérica events will be 72-hole stroke play tournaments consisting of fields of up to 144 players. The fields will consist primarily of the top professionals in the region with the top money earners receiving access to the PGA TOUR’s Nationwide Tour the following year. The specifics of Nationwide Tour access will be disclosed next year prior to the start of the 2012 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica schedule.
“The collaborative effort among the leaders of the various national federations in the region and the PGA TOUR was an important step in cementing PGA TOUR Latinoamérica as the future of professional golf in the region,” said Mark Lawrie, who represented the South American Golf Federations in the early discussions in January of 2010 and is the Executive Director of the Argentine Golf Federation.
PGA TOUR Latinoamérica will be managed by Jack Warfield who has been named Chief of Operations, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. Warfield, who has over 20 years of experience in the operation of international golf events including the World Cup, World Golf Championships and Presidents Cup, will continue to work closely with the leaders in golf in the region.
“I’m excited to lead the PGA TOUR’s further expansion into Latin America,” said Warfield. “The players in the region will have the opportunity to play a guaranteed, consistent schedule with multi-year commitments, which will help prepare them for the higher levels of professional golf and will serve as a pathway to the Nationwide Tour and PGA TOUR. The Tour de Las Americas’ experience and history in the region over the past decade, and support for this idea, has proven invaluable during the creation of this new tour.”
“The Tour de las Americas is excited to play a new role within the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica tour as we continue to build on what we’ve established at the TLA over the past 10 years,” said Henrique Lavie, current Tour de las Americas commissioner who will become Executive Director of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
The TOUR de las Americas will play a series of events early in 2012 which will help establish the priority rankings for players once PGA TOUR Latinoamérica kicks off in September 2012. Following the conclusion of these events, the Tour de las America’s staff and schedule will be integrated into the new structure of PGA TOUR Latinoamérica.
“Over the past decade, professional golf in Latin America has been served dutifully by many key partners in the region,” said Finchem. “The TLA, the national federations, promoters and private clubs of Mexico, South America and the Caribbean who have carried the torch for golf in the region will now work in collaboration under the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica banner to take the next step for player development in the region.”