PGA TOUR GOES GLOBAL DE­VEL­OP­MEN­TAL SEA­SONS BE­GIN

Play­ers from across the world are set to com­pete for f cov­eted spots on the Web. com Tour.

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENT - Words by Chris Cox PGA TOUR

The last time the three PGA TOUR in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­men­tal tours were all in ac­tion at the same time was Septem­ber 1-4 in 2016. The Macken­zie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada was hold­ing the Cape Bre­ton Open, the Yu­long­wan Yun­nan Open was tak­ing place in China and PGA TOUR Lati­noamer­ica's Flor de Cana Open was mak­ing its de­but in Nicaragua.

With PGA TOUR Se­ries-China not play­ing in 2017, this is the year all three Tours are back play­ing, sto­ry­lines abound­ing for all three as alums from each Tour con­tinue to use the path pro­vided to get to the Web.com Tour and, even­tu­ally, the PGA TOUR.

By the time this sea­son draws to a close at these Tours' fi­nal events, the Web.com Tour will wel­come 15 new play­ers likely more than that if you con­sider those who will qual­ify via the Tour's Qual­i­fy­ing Tour­na­ment to its 2019 mem­ber­ship rolls. A bunch of guys al­ready have ex­pe­ri­enced that feel­ing.

Tony Finau is one of them. The former Macken­zie Tour player, who played in Canada in 2013, has not been out­side the top 50 in the OWGR since the TOUR Cham­pi­onship last Septem­ber.

Xin­jun Zhang and Zecheng Dou are two of them. The former PGA TOUR Se­ries-China play­ers be­came the first play­ers from China to hold PGA TOUR mem­ber­ship when they both emerged from the 2017 Web. com Tour Reg­u­lar Sea­son money list to se­cure their PGA TOUR cards for 2017-18.

Macken­zie Hughes is also one of them. The Cana­dian was the first Or­der of Merit win­ner on the Macken­zie Tour, in 2013 (how's that for a mar­ket­ing strat­egy?), and he's won at ev­ery level since on the Web. com Tour and the PGA TOUR at the 2017 RSM Clas­sic.

The group of play­ers who have earned Web.com Tour cards is also quite cos­mopoli­tan in na­ture. Coun­tries the world over are rep­re­sented by these play­ers who ad­vanced to the Web.com Tour. Canada, Chile, Spain, Chi­nese Taipei, Eng­land, Mex­ico, China, Puerto Rico, Colom­bia, Gu­atemala, New Zealand, Brazil, Ar­gentina, Aus­tralia and South Korea have all sent play­ers to the next rung of the lad­der that is PGA TOURaf­fil­i­ated golf.

“I think our goal is to de­velop world-class tal­ent in mar­kets around the world. That's why we made the in­vest­ments that we have made in the Macken­zie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, PGA TOUR Lati­noamer­ica and PGA TOUR China,” said PGA TOUR Com­mis­sioner Jay Mon­a­han. “And for us look­ing at the suc­cess that grad­u­ates have had as they have moved for­ward is some­thing we're proud of. It ben­e­fits the game at the high­est level when you have play­ers from ma­jor mar­kets around the world who are ap­proach­ing star­dom; it gives us an op­por­tu­nity to raise the pro­file of our great game in their home coun­tries.”

This sea­son, the Macken­zie Tour will, as it al­ways does, con­duct its tour­na­ments be­tween June and late-Au­gust. There are 13 events on this year's sched­ule. PGA TOUR Lati­noamer­ica will hold 18 tour­na­ments in two dis­tinct halves of its sea­son, from March to June and then from Au­gust to late-Novem­ber. PGA TOUR SeriesChina, which opened its sea­son at the Chengdu Cham­pi­onship in mid-March, the same week as PGA TOUR Lati­noamer­ica's Gu­atemala Stella Ar­tois Open, con­cludes the year in late-Oc­to­ber in Hong Kong, at the Clear­wa­ter Bay Open.

PGA TOUR Se­ries-China bears watch­ing this sea­son, as it re­turns to ac­tion af­ter a one-year hia­tus. With the sports land­scape in China chang­ing, the PGA TOUR, which owns and op­er­ates all three in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­men­tal tours, wanted to en­sure that the PGA TOUR Se­ries-China was in align­ment with the China gov­ern­ment's Min­istry of Sport. Now that it is, with the full sup­port of the China Golf As­so­ci­a­tion, PGA TOUR Se­ries-China re­turns as a pop­u­lar part of China' s Chin as China' s sport­ing land­scape. land­scape. land­scape

“We have al­ways taken the long view on our com­mit­ment here, and if we can un­lock the largest coun­try and the largest mar­ket in the world and we can in­spire fu­ture gen­er­a­tions and hope­fully young peo­ple are watch­ing these two stars and other stars as we go for­ward we think that that's a won­der­ful thing for the best game on the planet,” Mon­a­han said at the World Golf Cham­pi­onships-HSBC Cham­pi­ons a year ago. “While we've played this Tour for three years, our com­mit­ment to China and golf in China and de­vel­op­ing the game in China with our part­ner­ship with the [China Golf As­so­ci­a­tion] goes back bac to 1995 when we brought the World Wo Cup here.”

Mon­a­han M was speak­ing of that World Wo Cup in Shen­zhen at Mis­sion Hills Hill Golf Club, the first time a PGA TOUR-spon­sored TOU event had gone to China, C a tour­na­ment won by the U.S. team of Fred Cou­ples and Davis Dav Love III.

How H Mon­a­han feels about China is a sim­i­lar feel­ing he has about Latin Lat Amer­ica and what PGA TOUR TOU Lati­noamer­ica can mean in that t part of the world. Since 2011, 201 the Tour has been play­ing through­out Latin Amer­ica, with stops in Ja­maica and Mi­ami, not ex­actly Latin Amer­ica but in the neigh­bor­hood, now sprin­kled in as the Tour con­tin­ues to grow.

“We are an es­tab­lished Tour with a great rep­u­ta­tion in Latin Amer­ica. We have so many great part­ners in each of the coun­tries where we play, and they have helped fa­cil­i­tate the growth and suc­cess we've ex­pe­ri­enced,” said Jack Warfield, a golf-in­dus­try vet­eran who for years was the tour­na­ment di­rec­tor for the World Cup of Golf be­fore ac­cept­ing his cur­rent po­si­tion with the PGA TOUR. “I love the cities where we hold tour­na­ments, and I am so im­pressed by the golf cour­ses and the dif­fer­ent chal­lenges they present our play­ers dur­ing the course of a sea­son. When I think about areas of the world where the sport of golf can grow both with fans and with the de­vel­op­ment of play­ers, there is no place I would rather be than in Latin Amer­ica.”

Golf is a world­wide game now and has been for some time, with the TOUR's three in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­men­tal tours prov­ing that point.

Xin­jun Zhang of China.

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