PGA Tour hoping to grow golf in S. Korea with first regular tournament

October 24, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 24 (Yonhap) — By holding its first regular event in South Korea, the PGA Tour hopes to grow the men’s game in the country that boasts an enthusiastic fan base, its senior official said Monday.

Local conglomerate CJ Group and the PGA Tour announced the details of the new CJ Cup@Nine Bridges at their signing ceremony in Seoul on Monday. CJ will host the event from 2017 to 2016, and Jay Monahan, deputy commissioner of the tour, said the group’s 10-year commitment will allow the tour to accomplish something “unique.”

“This gives us an opportunity to do something foundational in Korea,” Monahan said. “A few years from now, we’ll see more great Korean players at the very top of the game. That’s one of the core reasons why we’re here.”

Monahan spoke at length about the growth of the Korean men’s talent on the PGA Tour. Choi Kyoung-ju, better known as K.J. Choi in the United States, became the first South Korean man to win a PGA tournament in 2002, and most recently, Kim Si-woo won the Wyndham Championship in August, becoming the youngest Korean champion at 21.

Jay Monahan, deputy commissioner of the PGA Tour, speaks at a signing ceremony with CJ Group on a new PGA event in South Korea, the CJ Cup@Nine Bridges, on Oct. 24, 2016, in Seoul.

Jay Monahan, deputy commissioner of the PGA Tour, speaks at a signing ceremony with CJ Group on a new PGA event in South Korea, the CJ Cup@Nine Bridges, on Oct. 24, 2016, in Seoul.

“The growth and popularity of golf in Korea is well-known,” Monahan said. “Our No. 1 focus is to give PGA Tour players and Korean players the best possible platform to showcase their skills.”

Couple that with what Monahan said was “an engaged and committed title sponsor” in CJ, Monahan said the PGA Tour is well-aware of the new tournament’s far-reaching impact.

“This commitment not only extends the reach of the PGA Tour; it positions Korea as an integral part in the global sporting landscape,” Monahan said at the signing ceremony. “The global exposure of this event will be immense, as the tournament will be broadcast to 1 billion households in 227 countries and territories in 30 languages.”

In addition to the US$9.25 million purse, the CJ Cup@Nine Bridges will also offer 500 FedEx Cup points to the champion.

With those incentives, Monahan said, “The CJ Cup@Nine Bridges is guaranteed to attract a top-notch, world-class field.”

The tournament will be sandwiched between the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, which should allow the CJ event to attract big names.

The conversations about the tournament between the two sides began in July last year, and Monahan added: “This isn’t something that was done on a short term. It’s a reflection of a long-term interest and great commitment we have in Korea.”

The organizers said the field of 78 will be made up of the top 60 from the FedEx Cup points rankings and players from the Korea PGA (KPGA) Tour. It’s to ensure the homegrown players will experience the competition against the best the world has to offer, which the organizers hope will fuel the growth of the men’s game here.

“We’re still trying to determine what the qualification criteria will be,” Monahan said. “We’re going to prioritize to make sure we have a number of top Korean players in the field. That will be a clear priority for us. We’re here because we think being here will benefit the KPGA in the long run. We’ve done that in other markets. It’s helped with vibrancy and participation.”

 

 

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