PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The PGA Tour has acquired the Canadian Tour, giving it smaller circuits north of the border and in South America as a potential starting point to eventually reach the big leagues.
Web.com Tour cards will be awarded to the top five players on what now will be called "PGA Tour Canada," with the next five players given exemptions into the final stage of qualifying school for the Web.com Tour. The Canadian circuit will have at least eight tournaments next year, each with prize money of about $150,000.
The tour previously started the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, which began in September and features 11 tournaments.
Late last year, the PGA Tour has agreed to loan the Canadian Tour money and assist it tournament development and sponsorship.
The PGA Tour will begin the transition of operating the Canadian circuit in November.
“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,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. “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.”
Details on the full schedule and the Tour’s executive structure will be announced later, PGA Tour officials said. PGA Tour Canada will play a minimum of eight tournaments in 2013 offering a minimum purse of $150,000, with the goal of eventually growing to 12 or 13 events. All tournaments will be held in Canada during the summer months.
The PGA Tour will work with all Canadian media outlets including its television partners, Shaw/Global TV and TSN, to broaden the circuit’s coverage. The PGA Tour also will highlight PGA Tour Canada through all its media resources, including PGATour.com and digital platforms.
Golf’s popularity in Canada is reflected in an in-depth economic impact study that showed nearly six million Canadians play golf, representing 21.5 percent of the population -- more than double the U.S. participation rate. The PGA Tour has experienced golf’s popularity first-hand with the annual RBC Canadian Open, the Champions Tour’s Montreal Championship and the 2007 Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal Golf Club. Canada also consistently ranks second only to the United States in traffic to PGATour.com.
Between PGA Tour Latinoamérica’s plan to go to a split spring-fall schedule and PGA Tour Canada’s summer schedule, players qualifying for both Tours will have the opportunity to play a year-long schedule. Both Tours will conduct their own qualifying tournaments for membership.
“We believe that PGA TOUR Canada has an important place in professional golf and will continue to help identify and develop talented players who aspire to one day play on the PGA Tour,” Finchem said. “With that in mind, it makes sense to give its top players direct access to the Web.com Tour.”
Former Canadian Tour players have accounted for more than 110 victories on the PGA Tour, including Canadians Mike Weir, Dave Barr, Dan Halldorson and Ian Leggatt. Other alumni who have PGA Tour victories include Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Stuart Appleby, Tim Clark, Bryce Molder, Jason Bohn, Brendan Steele, Craig Parry, Tim Petrovic, Grant Waite, Will McKenzie and Brandt Jobe, to name a few.