SHANGHAI — The PGA Tour has its first Chinese members, and now has reason to believe they won’t be the last.
After a one-year hiatus, the PGA Tour China Series resumes in 2018 under a four-year agreement between the PGA Tour and the China Golf Association (CGA) in which the prize money and number of tournaments will increase.
“These will be brand new tournaments, providing players with more opportunity to participate, as well as to establish a route for China golfers to get through and into the world stage of golf,” said Zhang Xiaoning, president of the CGA. “The development of golf tournaments here is not only helping the tour itself, but also to help China develop better and more professional golfers and to raise the interest of our citizens to the sport of golf.”
The announcement Wednesday was at the HSBC Champions, the only World Golf Championships event in Asia. It was at the HSBC Champions four years ago that the tour first launched the PGA Tour China Series.
The start of the 2017 season was delayed during discussions, and eventually scrapped.
Justin Shin was the leading Canadian on the PGA TOUR China Order of Merit in 2015. That season, the Maple Ridge, B.C., native became the first Canadian to win on the PGA TOUR China series, capturing the United Investment Real Estate WuHan Open en route to a 9th place finish on the Tour’s Order of Merit.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said the tournaments in 2018 would have a minimum purse of 1.5 million Chinese yuan (roughly $225,000), an increase from 2016. He sees success through Dou and Zhang already reaching the PGA Tour after just three years of the China series, and a handful of others on the Web.com.
The HSBC Champions sets aside six spots for Chinese players.