PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – After lending strategic and financial support to the Canadian Professional Golf Tour in 2012 and evaluating all aspects of the business, the PGA Tour has agreed to assume operational control of what will become PGA Tour Canada in 2013. The conversion will begin November 1.
Moving forward, the new PGA Tour division will provide direct access to the Web.com Tour for its leading money winners, based on the final Order of Merit. The top five players will receive playing privileges on the Web.com Tour, while the next five will be exempt into the finals of the Web.com Tour qualifying school.
The announcement was made on Thursday by PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem; Pierre Blouin, Chairman of the Canadian Tour Board of Directors; and Rick Janes, Commissioner of the Canadian Tour.
“Having gained a thorough understanding of the golf landscape in Canada over the course of the 2012 season, we are confident that by fully dedicating our assets and resources, PGA Tour Canada will be well positioned to play an increasingly important role in professional golf,” Finchem said. “With a solid foundation of existing tournaments along with outstanding opportunities to establish new events, we are confident PGA Tour Canada will strengthen and grow in the coming years.”
“This is the logical next step for the Tour’s sustainability and growth,” Blouin said. “The PGA Tour provided invaluable assistance throughout the 2012 season and through its evaluation process saw strong potential. Golf is incredibly popular in Canada and PGA Tour Canada will be a very important part of Canada’s sports landscape in the coming years. I also want to acknowledge the efforts made by Rick Janes and his staff throughout the process to assist the PGA TOUR in gaining a better understanding of the Tour.”
Details on the full schedule and the Tour’s executive structure will be announced at a later date. PGA Tour Canada will debut with a minimum of eight tournaments in 2013 offering a minimum purse of $150,000, with the goal of eventually growing to 12 or 13 events. All tournaments will be held in Canada during the summer months.
“We have long recognized the many advantages of joining forces with the PGA Tour,” Janes said. “It not only brings a new level of stature to Canada’s domestic circuit, it ensures that PGA Tour Canada will continue to attract the best young professionals and offer the highest level of competition. For developing young Canadian players the opportunity to compete on home soil against top PGA Tour prospects from around the world is a tremendous advantage.”
The PGA Tour will work with all Canadian media outlets including its television partners, Shaw/Global TV and TSN, to broaden coverage of PGA Tour Canada. The Tour also will highlight PGA Tour Canada through all media resources, including PGATour.com and digital platforms.
Golf’s popularity in Canada is reflected in an in-depth economic impact study that showed nearly 6 million Canadians play golf, representing 21.5 percent of the population, which was more than double the U.S. participation rate. The PGA Tour has experienced golf’s popularity first-hand with the annual RBC Canadian Open, the Champions Tour’s Montreal Championship and the highly successful 2007 Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal GC. Canada also consistently ranks second only to the U.S. in traffic to PGATOUR.com, the PGA Tour’s official website.
“We view this as a win-win proposition that strengthens an established Tour in a country that absolutely loves golf,” Finchem said. “As the Tour continues to develop and grow, charitable contributions and the value provided to tournaments sponsors will increase, as well. As for the PGA Tour, this expands our brand in Canada and gives us geographic integration throughout the Americas in concert with PGA Tour Latinoamérica.”
PGA Tour Latinoamérica, which emerged from a collaboration between the PGA Tour, Tour de las Américas, National Golf Federations, promoters and host clubs throughout Latin America, has debuted this fall with 11 tournaments in seven countries. PGA Tour Latinoamérica’s top five money winners will receive Web.com Tour playing status in 2013.
Between PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s plan to go to a split spring-fall schedule and PGA Tour Canada’s summer schedule, players qualifying for both Tours will have the opportunity to play a year-long schedule. Both Tours will conduct their own qualifying tournaments for membership.
“We believe that PGA Tour Canada has an important place in professional golf and will continue to help identify and develop talented players who aspire to one day play on the PGA Tour,” Finchem said. “With that in mind, it makes sense to give its top players direct access to the Web.com Tour.”
Former Canada Tour players have accounted for more than 110 victories on the PGA Tour, including Canadians Mike Weir, Dave Barr, Dan Halldorson and Ian Leggatt. Other alumni who have PGA Tour victories include Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Stuart Appleby, Tim Clark, Bryce Molder, Jason Bohn, Brendan Steele, Craig Parry, Tim Petrovic, Grant Waite, Will McKenzie and Brandt Jobe, to name a few.