The PGA Tour has partnered with the China Golf Association (CGA) and China Olympic Sports Industry (COSI) to launch a new 12-tournament professional golf tour in China.
The new tour was announced at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai before the final round of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions tournament on Sunday.
The China Tour-PGA Tour China Series, set to tee off in early 2014, will initially comprise twelve events which will be played across China. It is estimated that between 120 and 156 players will enter each tournament and that the purses will be in the region of US$200,000.
“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,” said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem at the announcement.
“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.”
Zhang Xiaoning, vice president and secretary general of the CGA, added: “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.”
While the tour is being sanctioned by the PGA Tour and the CGA, COSI will assist in attracting sponsors to the new tour, according to its president Sun Liping.
“This is the start of a tour that will continue to grow within China in the short and long-term,” Liping said. “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 endeavour.”
The latest announcement comes with the PGA Tour having already taken significant steps to expand its presence internationally. In 2012 it formed the PGA Tour Latinoamérica, an 11-tournament tour that is played in nine different countries around South America. Later that year the PGA Tour also took over the running of the Canadian Professional Golf Tour, which it renamed the PGA Tour Canada and launched this summer.
Meanwhile in the lucrative South East Asian market, the PGA Tour has been steadily growing its presence over the past few years. The recent CIMB Classic and WGC-HSBC Champions events in Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai respectively were the tour’s first fully-fledged events to be held in the region.