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PGA Tour brings perks to the table

Players Cup organizers, tour outline plan

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Players Cup organizers and the PGA Tour rolled out the sales pitch for the potential new-look Canadian Tour on Friday morning.

Tournament executive director and mf1 president Ryan Hart and PGA Tour senior vice-president of tournament development Jeff Monday hosted a breakfast meeting with about 30 members of the local business community at the Winnipeg Winter Club outlining the opportunities and the potential new look of PGA Tour Canada.

The Tour has been in discovery mode in Canada all season long. After lending financial support to the struggling Canadian Tour, the PGA Tour will make a final decision in October whether to assume control.

"We're still predominantly in discovery," Monday told the Free Press after the meeting. "But obviously one of the things we assess is, 'What's the degree of interest and enthusiasm?' I would say consistently in every locale, there has been a great deal of interest in what this relationship would mean and how you could use that to elevate not just the stature of the tour itself, but all of the parts."

The rebranding effort would include extending the PGA Tour name and logo to the Canadian circuit and try to use it to leverage some financial health.

"Can we take assets that we have, our assets and expertise and resources, and build upon that to take everything to the next level," Monday said, outlining the key question ahead.

The PGA Tour certainly came to the table with a perk or two on Friday.

The sponsorship prospectus for the Players Cup at Pine Ridge for the next three years revealed that the title sponsorship, at a price of $150,000 annually, will come with many goodies, including a corporate membership to the TPC at Sawgrass and access to all 32 courses in the TPC network.

The PGA Tour, with its recognizable brand, would also be incorporating PGA Tour Canada and the Players Cup into its website, which Monday said sees about seven million hits a month

Hart said the Players Cup is now actively soliciting sponsors and that he needs a strong indication by the end of September to demonstrate to the PGA Tour that Winnipeg should be on the future schedule.

"That's our target," Monday said. "We have a board meeting in early October and we'll go to that with a recommendation. We also, if we're going to move forward, we want to do it with enough time so that all the tournaments can get word out and we can start marketing them and promoting them, and that they have enough time to be successful with their local events."

Competitively, Monday also outlined the structure the PGA Tour envisions if it decides to move forward.

With the 2013 revamping of the qualifying criteria for the PGA Tour -- all cards in the future will come from the main development tour, the Tour -- bringing a Canadian development arm into the mix fits the plan very well.

PGA Tour Canada players could expect to find that between three and five of the top players each season will be granted automatic promotions to the Tour and possibly the next three to five players would find exemptions straight to the finals of qualifying school to compete for Tour cards.

Both Hart and Monday also outlined for the gathering the business mode for the PGA Tour, which is to enhance tournaments by making them events with a community focus, including charity components.

Monday said that last year, events on the PGA Tour alone raised $120 million for charities -- apart from what players do on their own -- and that exceeded major league baseball, the NFL and NBA combined.

The Players Cup has already been focused on that element of operation, having helped generate $225,000 for charities since 2010.

Friday's breakfast meeting was likely the first of several to be held across the country in conjunction with other Canadian Tour operators.

"This is something Ryan and I talked about when I was out the first time (during tournament week in July), to try to pull this together," Monday said. "What this does for us is to help us gauge the level of community interest and the potential for community support, which is critical."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 25, 2012 C5

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