|PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. (AFP files)
TORONTO - As expected, the PGA Tour will assume operational control of the Canadian Tour, which will now become PGA Tour Canada.
The top five players on the Canadian Order of Merit will earn playing privileges on the Web.Com Tour, now the main gateway to the PGA Tour, while the next five will be exempt into the finals of the Web.Com Tour qualifying school.
“Having gained a thorough understanding of the golf landscape in Canada over the course of the 2012 season, we are confident that, by fully dedicating our assets and resources, PGA Tour Canada will be well-positioned to play an increasingly important role in professional golf,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.
“With a solid foundation of existing tournaments along with outstanding opportunities to establish new events, we are confident PGA Tour Canada will strengthen and grow in the coming years,” he added.
The tour floated the struggling Canadian Tour an operating loan last year believed to be in the $750,000 range. Over the years, the Canadian Tour has faced limited fan support and rapidly changing sponsors.
“This is the logical next step for the tour’s sustainability and growth,” said Pierre Blouin, chairman of the Canadian Tour board of directors.
“The PGA Tour provided invaluable assistance throughout the 2012 season and through its evaluation process, saw strong potential,” he added.
“I also want to acknowledge the efforts made by (commissioner) Rick Janes and his staff throughout the process to assist the PGA Tour in gaining a better understanding of the tour,” said Blouin.
Janes will stay with the new organization on a consulting basis. Details on the full schedule and executive structure will be announced in the future. The new tour will maintain an office in Canada, but qualifying school will be held in the United States in the spring.
With eight tournaments expected to offer a minimum purse of $150,000 in 2013, the schedule is expected to grow to 12 or 13 events.
“We have long recognized the many advantages of joining forces with the PGA Tour,” said Janes.
“It not only brings a new level of stature to Canada’s domestic circuit, it ensures that PGA Tour Canada will continue to attract the best young professionals and offer the highest level of competition,” he said.
“For developing young Canadian players, the opportunity to compete on home soil against top PGA Tour prospects from around the world is a tremendous advantage,” said Janes.
The PGA Tour will also seek to broaden coverage of tour events through its media partners, Shaw/Global TV and TSN, and highlight events and players through its media resources.