After three years jointly sanctioned with the PGA Tour, the previously named PGA Tour China now becomes the China Golf Tour with as many as 12 events scheduled although, at this stage, the venue for only one has been confirmed.
According to a recent statement made to Associated Press, the PGA Tour’s recently appointed commissioner, Jay Monahan, indicated that dealings were still in the air; "There's a good chance that it won't happen this year and that we may take a year off. There's also a good chance that it will happen. There's a fair amount of relationship complexity that we're dealing with and so that's the basis for it."
Despite that uncertainty, it appears the China Golf Association and the China Tour are proceeding with qualifying schools for the tour. Three schools are scheduled, the final of which being played at present with several Australians likely to earn the right to play the series.
Each of the events will carry prize money of $200,000 but the carrot of the leading five players gaining access to the Web.com Tour, as with the case when associated to the PGA Tour, now appears in jeopardy.
In previous years, Australians Bryden MacPherson and Brett Drewitt and New Zealander Josh Geary were beneficiaries of that graduation opportunity, Drewitt having now advanced from the Web.com Tour to the PGA Tour.
Just what opportunities are available to the leading money winners in 2017 is not yet apparent although access to the European Challenge Tour seems a logical step.
A closer association with the European and Asian Tours, if that is to be the case, is perhaps more in keeping with the European Tour’s push into Asia in recent years.
The first event of the 2017 schedule, the St Andrews Henan Open is to be played in Zhengzhou beginning in early July.
GW PLAYER PROFILE: MATTEO MANASSERO