Nov
2
2013
PGA Tour to expand global reach to China with new pro circuit (*Updated)
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

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As we reported earlier this week, the PGA Tour has partnered with the China Golf Association (CGA) and event promoter China Olympic Sports Industry (COSI) to form a new professional golf tour in China that will debut in 2014 with 12 tournaments throughout the country.

The creation of China Tour-PGA Tour China Series will be announced today by Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, along with CGA and COSI officials. 

The Series will also be open to not just Chinese golfers, but also pros from outside of the country. The fields are expected to be between 120-156 players and purses are estimated to be around RMB 1,200,000 (approximately $200,000) per tournament. The plan is to increase the number of events after the inaugural year.

There will be an open qualifying (Q-school) at the start of 2014 before the first event in March. The system will resemble the structure in place for PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica — “similar, if not identical,” said Commissioner Finchem.

While the Tour hasn’t officially announced the schedule, we were able to secure a preliminary copy of it via sources in China and a screenshot that was posted by a CGA official on his WeChat, a popular social media networking app:

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Here’s the translation of the schedule — please note that “March 3″ means the “3rd week in March.”

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The proposal to establish the China Series was reviewed by the Policy Board, including the Player Directors, through multiple conference calls and “approved with the recognition of the value it will provide the PGA Tour in such a key global marketplace.” (Finchem-business speak.)

Tenniel Chu, the vice chairman of Mission Hills Golf Club, which boasts the largest golf facilities in the world, supports the new China Series Tour and believes the Chinese and the CGA can take advantage of the relationship and learn from the Americans and PGA Tour.

“There are many better practices we can learn and leverage on the PGA Tour,” said Chu in an exclusive sit-down interview prior to the Match at Mission Hills between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. “Hence, when the CGA came and discussed this with me, I equally think this is a good opportunity to learn best practices and ultimately, the PGA Tour China, they can graduate to other Tours in the U.S. and it’s a breeding ground. It doesn’t need to be the top, top tier of the Tour. It has to start somewhere.

“The reason why I think the PGA Tour is so successful is one country, one language. China has 1.3 billion, one country, one language — if we can find our own local hero, grow our tour to be what it is… it will have such a drastic impact on the whole world of golf. Nowadays we are knocking on the door of the U.S. and Europe to play the PGA Tour or European Tour, but one day, I can see that people will be knocking on the door to China to play on the China Tour.”

The media center is buzzing as the press conference is set to begin in about ten minutes. Stay tuned for more details and for more information, I recommend going back and reading my original post.

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Here’s the media blast:

China Golf Association and PGA TOUR Establish New China Professional Golf Tour that will Debut in 2014

SHANGHAI, CHINA (November 3, 2013) – A partnership between the China Golf Association, PGA TOUR and event promoter China Olympic Sports Industry (COSI) has established a new professional golf tour in China that will begin play in 2014 with 12 tournaments throughout the country.

The creation of China Tour–PGA TOUR China Series was announced today by PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem; Zhang Xiaoning, Vice President and Secretary General of the CGA; and Sun Liping, President of COSI, at Sheshan International Golf Club, site of this week’s World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.

China Tour–PGA TOUR China Series, which also will be open to professionals outside of China, will move geographically through China. Fields are expected to be between 120 and 156 players and purses will be in the RMB1,200,000 range per tournament. Plans are to increase the number of events after the first year.

“We are very pleased to announce the establishment of China Tour–PGA TOUR China Series, which builds upon our longstanding relationship with the China Golf Association,” Commissioner Finchem said. “As with the structure of NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and PGA TOUR Canada, China Tour–PGA TOUR China Series will provide open competition on a quality tour for elite players from China and other countries and the opportunity to advance to the world stage. Also similar to those two Tours, we plan to provide access to the Web.com Tour for the season’s top players.”

The initial schedule and further details, such as specifics on Web.com Tour qualifying, will be announced at a later date. Open qualifying tournaments are planned for the beginning of the year with the first tournaments scheduled for March.

“We have seen great advancement of Chinese elite golfer development in the last few years, and the creation of this Tour is the next positive step forward for this sport in China,” Mr. Zhang said. “This will raise the level of golf in China even further and prepare players from China to participate in the Olympics and other significant global competitions. We are happy to partner with the PGA TOUR, the world’s leading golf organization, and to work together in this effort. We also appreciate COSI, which is an important partner to help deliver the results from these efforts. We continue to grow golf as a sport, and to advance our athletes to greater levels.”

The PGA TOUR will be involved in all aspects of the Tour’s operations and work with COSI, a division of the China Sports Industry Group, on bringing sponsors to the Tour. COSI has extensive knowledge and experience in promoting global-quality events.

“We are excited to be a part of this major milestone for golf in China,” Mr. Sun said. “This is the start of a Tour that will continue to grow within China in the short- and long-term. We are happy to lend our experience in running premium sporting events, including golf tournaments. With our partnership with the CGA and the PGA TOUR, we are confident that this will be a very successful endeavor.”

The PGA TOUR has an established collaborative relationship with the CGA that has seen the TOUR working actively with the Men and Women’s Chinese national golf teams to support their training, including multiple visits to the TPC Sawgrass facility to receive instruction.

This relationship marks the further development of the PGA TOUR’s presence in China. In August, the TOUR announced the hiring of Greg Gilligan, an executive who has been based in China the past 17 years, as Vice President, Managing Director of PGA TOUR’s affiliate in China, PGA TOUR (Beijing) Management Consulting Co Ltd. Gilligan will help the PGA TOUR to increase its efforts in China, including working cooperatively to support the continued growth of golf in China, deepening and broadening the PGA TOUR’s relationships and advancing the TOUR’s business throughout the country

The TOUR has multiple existing broadcast partners in China and a digital partnership with SINA Corporation. A retail licensing agreement has established nearly 40 PGA TOUR-branded stores in China, with more planned. Additionally, earlier this year, the TOUR and Bose Corporation announced a sponsorship agreement for category rights in China, marking the first official corporate sponsorship the TOUR has made specific to China.

About China Golf Association

The China Golf Association (CGA) is the member organization of the All-China Sports Federation and the national sport association recognized by China Olympic Committee. It was founded on May 23rd, 1985 and is headquartered in Beijing, in the Multi-ball Games Administrative Center of General Administration of Sport of China. The CGA has ten committees: Professional Golf Committee; Amateur Golf Committee; Junior Golf Committee; Rules and Competition Committee; News and Public Relation Committee; Marketing Committee; Course and Equipment Committee; Coach Committee; Education, Science and Research Committee and Handicap Committee.

The function of the CGA is: to publicize and organize the general public to actively participate in the sport of golf; to organize international golf tournaments and promote international communications; to organize all kinds and all levels of national competition and training activities; to draw up a managing system, rules of competition and the technical level system of athletes, coaches and referees; to organize training activities for coaches, referees and athletes; to select and recommend coaches and athletes for the national team; to organize concentrated training and participation in golf tournaments; and to organize science and research projects, etc.

The aim of the CGA is: to unify golf workers, athletes and fans of the country and guide the development of the sport of golf in the; to promote the popularization and upgrade level of play for the game of golf; to enhance exchange and friendship with golf associations and organizations of other countries and regions; to strengthen liaison and cooperation with international golf organizations.

The CGA is the sole legal organization to represent China in international golf organizations and related international golf activities, and is the member organization for the International Golf Federation (IGF) and Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC).

About COSI

China Olympic Sports Industry Co. Ltd. (COSI) is an affiliate to the publicly listed (SSE) China Sports Industry Co. Ltd., the oldest and largest professional sports investment and management company in the People’s Republic of China. With events focused on Cycling, Marathons, and Golf, COSI is the front-runner in organizing China’s outdoor sporting events. Some of COSI’s more notable projects include the Beijing Marathon, Tour of China (Cycling), Buick’s China Golf Club League, and the Buick Golf Championship.

About PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR is the world’s premier membership organization for touring professional golfers, co-sanctioning 120 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour, Web.com Tour, NEC Series-PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and PGA TOUR Canada. The PGA TOUR’s mission is to entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back, generate significant charitable and economic impact in the communities in which it plays, and provide financial opportunities for TOUR players. Worldwide, PGA TOUR tournaments are broadcast to nearly 945 million households in 225 countries and territories in 32 languages. Virtually all tournaments are organized as non-profit organizations in order to maximize charitable giving. In 2012, tournaments across all Tours generated more than $130 million for local charitable organizations, bringing the TOUR’s alltime total of charitable contributions to $1.86 billion.

The PGA TOUR’s web site is PGATOUR.COM, the No. 1 site in golf, and the organization is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.