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PGA Tour looks to widen its reach with PGA Tour China

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While in Shanghai for the WGC-HSBC Champions, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced the creation of the China Professional Golf Tour (PGA Tour China). The Tour will debut in 2014 and will feature 12 tournaments throughout the country, with purses of approximately $200,000 per tournament.

The tournament, which brought top players from all over the world to China, signifies the increasing globalization in the world of professional golf. The game is growing at an incredible rate in Asia and especially China, and the creation of the PGA Tour China promises to continue the growth of professional golf in this region.

Further details, such as specifics on Web.com Tour Qualifying, will be announced at a later date, but it can be assumed that the new PGA Tour China, in addition to growing the game locally, may serve as a feeder tour for the Web.com Tour in years to come. Much like other PGA Tours around the world, such as PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica, the PGA Tour China will provide players from around the world the chance to qualify for the Web.com Tour and ultimately the PGA Tour, should they so choose.

Assuming the PGA Tour China follows the lead of the PGA Tour Canada and the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and offers Web.com Tour membership to top players, we can assume that this Tour could offer an avenue for top Asian players to showcase their skills across the world in years to come.

The PGA Tour Canada, originally the Canadian Professional Golf Tour (and before that the Peter Jackson Tour) became known as the PGA Tour Canada in late 2012. The Tour now offers Web.com Tour exemptions to top players. In the past, top players such as Steve Stricker, Todd Hamilton, Jason Bohn, Mike Weir and Graham DeLaet have honed their craft north of the border in Canada. This past year, 28 former PGA Tour Canada players teed it up at the Web.com Tour Championship.

Down South, the PGA Tour Latinoamerica was also formed in 2012. The tour consists of 14 tournaments (in 2013) hosted across Mexico and South America. Like the Canadian Tour, the top five players each season earn status on the Web.com Tour, with the money leader becoming fully exempt. Although the majority of the Tour’s players hail from South America and Mexico, there are several other nationalities represented, including the U.S.

In comparing these three regions of the world, we see that there is potential (and even current success) in these geographies. The following table shows the number of top players from Canada, China and South America respectively. Although players from these three tours will come from all over the world, there is and will be a great opportunity for local players to compete and grow their games on these tours.

Top Players by Region

As seen above, the number of players from each of these regions varies significantly. Although it isn’t fair to compare these regions (of varying size) side by side, it is noteworthy that more players from these regions than ever before are featuring in the top 1000 in the world.

Going forward, the creation and growth of PGA tours in Canada, China and Latin America promise to grow the success of professional golf in these areas. Local tours with direct pathways to the Web.com and PGA tours provide players with the ability gain entry into top tournaments with increased purses and more OWGR points on the line.

The number of players from these regions in the top 100 in the world is still relatively lacking, but the abundance of players in the top 1,000 showcase the potential of these regions to continue to grow on the highest stages of world golf. Many of these players (such as Angel Cabrera) are already top players, followed by hundreds of players from the younger generation ready to burst their way onto the scene.

It should also be noted that these rankings are only representative of the professional game. Many amateur players are making their marks in the worlds of junior and collegiate amateur golf. Canadians have had more and more success in collegiate golf, and Chinese/Asian players (such as Guan Tianlang) have already shown incredible promise on the world stage.

The continued globalization of golf as a world sport leads perfectly into golf’s resurgence as an Olympic sport in 2016. The XXXI Olympic Summer Games in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro will be (among many other things) a showcase of the world’s best golfers.

Look for the Olympic Games to feature an incredibly diverse leaderboard of players from all over the world.

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Will works in Toronto, and as a hobby pursues sports analytics, specifically in the world of golf. He writes articles that use statistics (correlation, rather than causation) to bring (sometimes farfetched) insights and raise discussion about international golf. Will played college golf and competed internationally for Canada as a junior. These days, he’s a weekend player with a fondness for violent duck hooks.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. matt

    Dec 12, 2013 at 12:46 am

    purses are so large mainly because of Tim Finchem’s ideas he has brought forth to the PGA Tour. for example, world golf challenges, the presidents cup, the fedexcup….dude is a genious trying to globalize the game of golf. best thing thats happened to the sport

  2. Conrad MacDonald

    Nov 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    That’s your opinion. I respect that, but you didn’t make the original comment.

  3. Harvey

    Nov 16, 2013 at 4:42 am

    If the PGA tour wants to keep up with the race to Dubai it needs to open up its doors and become more accessible to non American player. I myself play in Europe and having to relocate to the USA for a year to play web.com is crazy when I can continue competing worldwide and also have Q school at the end of the year. Why not have feeder tours to the PGA worldwide?

  4. Evan

    Nov 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Furthermore, it’s not Mick’s comment that caught my attention and I don’t care to hear Mick explain his relatively simple response. Your comment is the inappropriate and inflammatory one.

  5. mick

    Nov 13, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I understand the Tour’s financial incentive for expanding into China/Asia, but is this really in the best interest of the game? Look at what has happened to women’s golf…

    • Conrad MacDonald

      Nov 13, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      are you indicating we shouldn’t open the golf market to Asians, specifically because they dominate the field?… little racist IMO

      • Evan

        Nov 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm

        I don’t believe he is trying to be racist… I think he is speaking from a marketing/ audience interest standpoint. Unless someone is speaking to racial inferiority or inequality I don’t think we should say someone is being racist. Also your statement of Asians “dominating” the LPGA field or any other golf field is also inaccurate. Asian golfers have made a big presence on the LPGA tour but I would not say they are dominating. It has more to do with the interest level and work ethic, especially in Korea. They are women’s golf crazy right now and has nothing to do with their ethnicity. Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, Suzanne Petterson. These are all players that are not Asian (nor American) that have had GREAT success on the tour in the last 5-10 years.

        What I am taking from Mick’s comment is that it is possible that there would be an immediate dozen or so players who might be relevent on the PGA tour but not garner the marketing/ viewership that American players would receive. Much the same if Asian or African or European players entered the NFL or NBA suddenly and did not receive the same fan fair and marketing pull as household name American/ Canadian players do.

        The PGA tour purses are so large and the tour is so successful because of players like Tiger Woods/ John Daly/ Padraig Harrington/ Rory Mcillroy. They are all very different and from very different places and walks in life, but what is the same about these players is that they are interesting characters that American audiences can relate to and enjoy. Language is the major immediate barrier between having a athlete being successful in a foreign market. If you can’t relate directly to the person through interviews and media it is difficult to increase their fan base.

        • Evan

          Nov 14, 2013 at 3:04 pm

          BTW, Sweden is currently a hotbed for women’s golf especially considering the size of the country and their climate. I haven’t heard anyone say that Swedish women are dominate because they are Swedish. Let’s keep race out of a dollars and cents conversation.

          • Conrad MacDonald

            Nov 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm

            I believe “dominate” is well used in this situation. Currently 27 of the top 50 women’s golfers are from Asia. If this trend continues, so will that number. There is obviously other great golfers from other nationalities as you stated; however, most of those athletes you mentioned are older and played the majority before the Asians hit the market. I agree with language barriers and such. I also would like to know what “mick” meant as we can speculate all day on what he meant… I wasnt sure what he meant exactly, hence the question mark above.

          • Evan

            Nov 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm

            I believe you are the one who threw the word racist/ racism up on the board when there was no clear sign of race being a topic here… only a market and a tour.

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