World tour in some form seems likely in coming years, Finchem believes

cimb asia pacific classic
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The limited-field CIMB Asia Pacific Classic brought Ernie Els and several more PGA Tour players to Malaysia for the first time last fall.
Associated Press


Published: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | 6:46 p.m.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem expects some form of a "world tour" in golf in the future, even if he's not around when it takes shape.

Europe essentially already has one, with sanctioned tournaments on five continents. The PGA Tour went to Malaysia for the first time in October, returned to Shanghai for a World Golf Championship event in November and has Japan on its wish list.


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"I think that at some point in time, men's professional golf will become integrated globally," Finchem said. "Now, what form that takes, whether it's a total integration, whether it's a FIFA-type, I don't know. One question is how the competition is organized. Another question is how the organizational structure behind it is organized. The first one is the key thing."

One reason Finchem believes a world tour is inevitable is marketing and sponsorship, which includes the players. Phil Mickelson is sponsored by Barclays, which promotes tournaments in Singapore, Scotland and New York. He played in all of them this year.

The PGA Tour also has such multinational title sponsors as Deutsche Bank and BMW (both playoff events), Accenture and Zurich.

"I think it's a matter of time," Finchem said. "Golf generally is a splintered sport, multi-organizational at every level. But there's movement. The last 15 years there's been a lot of movement. I would see that continuing to develop toward integration."

Even though the Ryder Cup completed a rugged stretch of golf -- some players competed seven out of nine weeks, all big events -- that didn't mean the season was over. The Fall Series still had four tournaments left, but the primary focus shifted overseas.

Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott, K.J. Choi and Ryan Palmer were among those who played the PGA Tour’s inaugural CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia, which is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour. Then it was off to Shanghai for the HSBC Champions, Singapore and onward to Dubai for Europe, while Tiger Woods headed Down Under again for his second straight start in the Australian Masters.

Integration can get tricky, for sure. But it starts with cooperation.

The European Tour was the first outside tour to set up golf in Asia, and one year had more tournaments in China than in Scotland. Now comes the PGA Tour looking to create tournaments and opportunities for its members.

Finchem says he and European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady have been "working together."

"We're not going to play a ton of tournaments over there, so it shouldn't be a problem. George knows that," Finchem said. "We're talking to him constantly about what our plan would be. My guess is it will result in us doing even more together."