The PGA Tour has its first Chinese members and now has reason to believe they will not be the last.
After a one-year hiatus, the PGA Tour China Series is to resume next year 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,” CGA president Zhang Xiaoning said.
The start of this season was delayed during discussions and eventually scrapped.
Even in three years, it had a strong influence on developing Chinese golfers: Dou Zecheng won four times, while Zhang Xinjun finished fifth on the money list. The top five players earn status on the Web.com Tour.
Li Haotong played the China Series in 2014 and a year later he was one shot out of the lead going into the final round of the HSBC Champions.
Under enormous pressure from the home crowd, he did not make a par until the seventh hole. He tied for seventh.
“As soon as I walked onto the first tee, everyone was speaking Mandarin to me: ‘Haotong, play well, good luck.’ My mind was lost,” he said. “I learned a lot from that.”
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said the tournaments next year would have a minimum purse of 1.5 million yuan (US$225,893), an increase from last year.
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