HSBC Champions in China joins WGC series

Over the past couple of years, the Asian Tour has been battling with the European Tour and the Australian-led OneAsia Tour over tournaments and branding rights in the world’s biggest continent.

The Europeans have tried to start tournaments in India and Korea without Asian Tour permission while the OneAsia people are trying to form a rival tour.

But the latest twist has come from much farther away – the US PGA Tour, who have swooped on one of Asia’s golfing jewels, China.

Looking to enhance its role in China, the PGA Tour has made the popular HSBC Champions tournament part of its World Golf Championship (WGC) series.

This means that the likes of Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, who are expected to play in the $7 million November 5-8 event in Shanghai, will be going to Asia for more than simply a cultural and commercial jaunt but for a worthy tournament bolstered by WGC credentials.

With prize money increased by $2 million, the tournament becomes the fourth leg of the WGC series and the only one being played outside the United States.

The move is a major triumph for the PGA Tour, which is facing pressure from an increasingly richer and aggressive European Tour in the battle to lure big-name golfers. Woods, no less, praised the move, as he said in a Bloomberg article:

“It is an event that symbolises the amazing progress of golf in Asia and its new World Golf Championships status underlines how firmly China has established its place on the global golf calendar.”

PGA Tour commissioner Tom Finchem described it as a major step forward for world golf, firmly believing that the the tournament will be a watershed for global golf. He enthused:

“This is one of the most significant steps ever taken in the globalisation of golf and one of the most logical. World-class golf has arrived on this continent and the map of the golf world may never look the same.”

The WGC series was first launched in 1999. Other events are the Accenture Match Play Championship, the Bridgestone Invitational and the CA Championship.

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