Finchem pushes Tour expansion in Asia
SHANGHAI - The PGA Tour is continuing to fine-tune its plan for growth in Asia, commissioner Tim Finchem said while visiting China during the WGC-HSBC Champions.
The status of the WGC-HSBC Champions, which counts as an official victory for winner Martin Kaymer but not official money, could change as soon as next year but more likely in 2013, Finchem said.
Full status for HSBC would be in conjunction with changes proposed for the Nationwide Tour and Q-School (click here for more details on this proposal), which would allow the new season to start in the fall.
“That’s the road I'd like to go down,” Finchem said of the Nationwide Tour proposals. “But there are issues with it, and the players need to support it. I don’t know anybody that has a huge problem with the specifics, but change is change.”
Should the Tour's Policy Board approve the plan, HSBC would become a full-fledged event on Tour, with official money. If the board doesn’t OK the changes, Finchem said there are options, without elaborating.
“We’ve been at this a year, and I think it's mainly getting players to understand the details,” Finchem said. “We have a player meeting in January at San Diego to talk it through again.”
The changes would go into effect in 2013 if the players agree, which is not a foregone conclusion.
"If we're not going to make the structural changes, we may make some changes here anyway,” Finchem said while visiting Shanghai. “I’d prefer to do it all in the context of the broader change.”
Another possible change in Asia would be expanding the 48-man field of the CIMB Asian Pacific Classic as soon as 2012, which Finchem called "likely."
With the Presidents Cup outside of North America for only the third time since its inception in 1994, the hope by many is that the biennial event between the U.S. and International teams - in Australia this month - travels to Asia in 2015.
“Why did we go to Canada?” South African Ernie Els asked of the Presidents Cup venue in 2007. "We should have more say of where the tournament goes when we have our home venue.”
Els said the event should be in Asia in 2015, and Finchem welcomes the possibility.
“We are looking hard at Asia,” Finchem said. “Asia has become a bigger part of what the Presidents Cup is all about, not just from the standpoint of Asians playing, but a lot of the guys that play Cup-in and Cup-out are players that play a lot in Asia. . . . We would be very interested in playing in Asia.”
China, Japan and South Korea are on Finchem’s short list, with Korea the likely front-runner for 2015.
“I think Korea - three players on the Presidents Cup team, pretty strong system of developing elite players - is something we would be looking at,” Finchem said.