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PGA Tour to be part of new circuit in China

PGA Tour
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MOBILE, AL - NOVEMBER 10: Ben Barry of Tuscaloosa carries a stuffed Pink Panther on his shoulders as he follows Paula Creamer through her third round play in The Mitchell Company LPGA Tournament of Champions at Magnolia Grove Golf Course on November 10, 2007 in Mobile, Alabama. Creamer is nicknamed the Pink Panther. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)  - 

For the third consecutive year the PGA Tour will expand globally following news on Sunday from the WGC-HSBC Champions that the circuit will launch the PGA Tour China in 2014.

The new tour will begin in March 2014 with 12 events that feature purses of about $200,000. In the fall of 2012 the Tour debuted the PGA Tour Latinoamerica with 11 events in seven countries, and this summer the PGA Tour Canada held nine events.

Like the new circuits in Latin America and Canada, PGA Tour China – a collaborative effort between the Tour, the China Golf Association and the China Olympic Sports Industry – will provide access to the Tour.

“Similar to those two Tours, we plan to provide access to the Tour for the season’s top players,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement, although no further details were provided on Sunday.

The top 5 players from the PGA Tour Latinoamérica and PGA Tour Canada season-ending money list earn Tour membership.

Sunday’s news appears to be part of a systematic expansion by the Tour into China and the Asian market. For the first time this year the WGC-HSBC Champions and last week’s CIMB Classic were official, full-FedEx Cup points events on the Tour schedule and in August the Tour hired Greg Gilligan to run PGA Tour (Beijing) Management Consulting. Gilligan was hired to “increase (the Tour’s) efforts in China.”

“It’s a very wise move for the PGA Tour,” Greg Norman, an advisory coach for the China National Golf Team, told Golf Channel’s Morning Drive crew on Sunday. “When I was a young kid growing up the place I wanted to play was the United States. It was the benchmark of success.”

“The east will take over the west in the game of golf within a generation. When you have 1.4 billion people getting a taste of golf they will accelerate their progress.”

The Tour did not announce who will be the commissioner of PGA Tour China.