Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

PGA Tour meets Jets

If big boys take over CanTour they want NHL team involved in Winnipeg event

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As it examines whether to expand its involvement or even take control of the Canadian Tour, the PGA Tour was in Winnipeg this week making contact with Players Cup organizers and sponsors.

Jeff Monday, PGA Tour senior vice-president, tournament development, also met with one group it may hope to engage in the future -- the Winnipeg Jets.

Both Monday and True North Sports and Entertainment chairman and Jets co-owner Mark Chipman confirmed their meeting here this week.

"We talked to them," Monday said. "Knowing how passionate people are about hockey, is there a way to connect what happened here with the NHL and each of the individual franchises?"

One of the obvious concepts to talk about is a potential Jets' involvement with the Winnipeg tour event's preliminary or pro-am days.

"(That idea) has some good things, that you're doing it in the off-season of the teams yet at the same time, you'd want to involve players," Monday said. "Are the players in town when you're in town? Those types of things (are what we talked about).

"In the back of our minds, that's something that could have some nice appeal to creating interest in the tournament (and) provide the team some profile, not that the Jets need any profile at any time. But it could be in a different arena than they're normally accustomed to. It's something we'd like to explore in a little more detail into the future."

Chipman told the Free Press that no course of action has been determined but that he was pleased to open a dialogue with one of the world's most powerful sports organizations.

"Their brand is a very significant if not iconic brand," Chipman said. "We learned about the possibilities of them being involved with the (Canadian) tour in the future.

"More specifically, there was discussion about possibly partnering around an event that might precede the CanTour event. We talked about that very generally, explored the idea and we agreed to continue to explore that."

"The challenge will be in the timing if you want to involve (Jets) players. That's not necessarily an easy thing in July."

As Monday goes across the country through the end of this year's schedule, he'll be co-ordinating some strategic planning for the Canadian Tour and taking stock of its business landscape.

"With the changes within our qualifying system, we thought it might be timely with what we're doing with PGA Tour Latinoamerica ... if we'd do something similar with Canada," Monday said. "Would that make any sense?

"What we're trying to do now is to get out and better understand how the tour is operated, including its impact on communities. And also talking with sponsors to make sure we get a sense of what they think is good value through the relationship. Monday said he has learned that the Canadian Tour's players are eager to see a more structured setup that would allow them to climb the ladder to the Web.com Tour and further to the PGA Tour.

"If that next step (in Canada) included participation by us and therefore access to the Web.com Tour based on their season-long performance, that's of great deal of interest to them as well."

When it comes time to decide whether the PGA Tour will exercise its option to take control of the Canadian circuit, Monday said commissioner Tim Finchem is likely to ask for an answer to one overall question.

"I think ultimately, would we be able to deliver on the brand promise that's equated with the PGA Tour?" Monday said. "If our name is on something, we expect to deliver to those constituents the experience that is consistent with our brand.

"While it may be on a different scale, nonetheless it's a brand and really, would we be able to make the commitment to all constituents the brand promise that's associated with the PGA tour brand."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 13, 2012 C1

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