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Wednesday, October 26, 2016 -
Masashi Ishii is beginning a new chapter in his career as he takes on the role of vice president and managing director of the newly opened PGA TOUR office in Tokyo, Japan. Ishii is no stranger to golf, or the PGA TOUR. For the last six years, he was President of the Jupiter Golf Network, a PGA TOUR rights holder and broadcaster of PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions and Tour tournaments in Japan. Ishii also knows the sport. Ishii played golf in college at Campbell University in North Carolina, and he played professionally in his native Japan after he graduated. Following his introduction at an October 26 press conference in Tokyo, Ishii sat down and shared some thoughts about his new position and the TOUR’s newest office. This is an exciting time for you with this new role. What is your first order of business? To set up the office and assemble a staff. That’s the first thing. There is a lot of high-profile golf occurring in this side of the world in October and November. Is this good timing to open the office? I just think this is such a great time to do this here in Japan. We’re going to have a World Cup of Golf in just a few weeks in Australia, with Ryo Ishikawa and Hideki Matsuyama making up the Japan team. So that’s going to be very nice to have that event right after we open our Tokyo office. And now we just announced our intent to bring the 2018 World Cup of Golf to Japan for a fourth time. So, yes, there is a lot of excitement around golf in Asia. How will the PGA TOUR’s relationship be with the Japan Golf Tour Organization? The TOUR’s intent and my intent is to assist the JGTO in helping that Tour use some of our best-practices initiatives to make it stronger. If the JGTO succeeds here in Japan, then golf succeeds. And that’s what we want. What will having the World Cup of Golf and the Summer Olympics here in Japan do for golf? Exposure-wise, there will be more PGA TOUR players on the air—on TV—in Japan because of them playing in the World Cup of Golf and in the Olympics. That will make it easier on our office to promote the players because they will be much more recognizable to people who watch those events, either live or on TV. How thrilling is it for you to watch what Hideki Matsuyama has done through the course of his career, winning your national open two weeks ago and moving into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time this week. He’s amazing. When he won the Japan Open, right after he finished his third round, at sunset, there were probably about 2,000 people making a line waiting to get his autograph. He had just finished playing, and some officials tried to shorten the line. Hideki said, “Please, please, don’t do that. I just want to sign for all of them.” It was cold out, and people kept asking about the cold. But he said, “I’m OK. The people in the line are just as cold as me.” We have said we want all our men’s golfers from Japan to be just like Hideki. The way he behaves is the greatest way to have interaction with the fans. You’re a former college and professional golfer. How many times a week do you play? I still try to play a lot, but I really haven’t had much time recently. I will try to play more and more. I’m still playing to between a 3 and 5 handicap, but mine aren’t competition scores. I’m just playing, having fun. How did your previous role as president at Jupiter Golf Network help prepare you for the role you now hold at the PGA TOUR? I would say the two jobs are totally different. At Jupiter, my mission was the management of the company, keeping the shareholders, the stakeholders and the subscribers happy. Now I’m on a different side of the table. I’m trying to expand the good points of golf with the golf fans here in Japan and let them know how good this game of golf is, with PGA TOUR a major part of the game. What do you like to do in your spare time? I like to spend time with my family, with my wife and kids. We have two girls, 15 and 8. I swim and snow ski a lot. I think I might have to play more golf during the winter time now, though.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 -
DALLAS, TEXAS – The AT&T Byron Nelson and the PGA TOUR announced today the tournament will move to Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas in 2018. Located 10 minutes south of Downtown Dallas, Trinity Forest Golf Club is an 18-hole, links-style course designed by former PGA TOUR player Ben Crenshaw and renowned golf course designer Bill Coore. The 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson will be played at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving on May 15-21. “Our mission to transform kids’ lives has been the heart of what we do since 1920 and that cause remains central to all our decisions about the AT&T Byron Nelson,” said David Watson, AT&T Byron Nelson Board Chair. “We are forever grateful to Four Seasons and the City of Irving for a long, prosperous partnership that has enabled us to raise over $150 million for Momentous Institute, impacting over 100,000 lives. We look forward to our tournament’s future and continuing to change the odds for kids.” Momentous Institute is the nonprofit owned and operated by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. Momentous Institute has been building and repairing social emotional health in kids since 1920. “Improving lives and charitable giving were central to tournament namesake Byron Nelson’s beliefs, and the PGA TOUR is committed to these ideals in the communities in which we play,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “We are excited to continue our partnership with AT&T and the AT&T Byron Nelson in the City of Dallas starting in 2018. The move to Trinity Forest Golf Club will have a positive long-term impact on the tournament and those served through Momentous Institute.” AT&T, the tournament’s title sponsor since 2015, is also based in Dallas. “This is a special sponsorship for us because it benefits Momentous Institute and thousands of children right here in our hometown of Dallas and beyond,” said Lori Lee, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President and Global Marketing Officer.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 -
One of the greatest facts about the sport of golf is it is truly global. In all corners of the world you can just about find someone, somewhere, belting a little dimpled ball around with a club.  There is no doubt about the strength of the American game and the PGA TOUR has showcased the best “local” talent for many decades.  But there is an ever increasing international flavor to the TOUR and it’s great to see the best the globe has to offer on a regular basis.  In the current world top-10, six countries are represented. Led by Australian World No.1 Jason Day, the USA, Northern Ireland, Sweden, England and Japan all have players embedded amongst the best. If you expand to the top-20 a total of nine countries are in the mix with Spain, South Africa and Scotland getting in on the action. For some the news the TOUR is adding another tournament in Asia next season with THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES in Korea went by without much fanfare but it is a significant step worthy of praise and excitement.  Full disclosure – as a transplanted Australian I have always had a soft spot for the international players on the PGA TOUR – and have long wanted to see more events around the world as part of the schedule.  The World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions has been a significant and impressive foundation for world-class golf in Asia and to see China, Malaysia and now Korea all holding stops on the TOUR is sensational.  Japan is also getting in on the act with a PGA TOUR Champions event beginning next year so perhaps it won’t be long before they are also on the main tour.  With a new office for the PGATOUR in Tokyo also announced today, the region has received a significant commitment to being part of global growth. Japan has always been an important market for golf, and the PGA TOUR sees this as the right time for us to increase our commitment in a country that is rich in golf tradition,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “We have been involved in Japan with our television rights for a long time, and several of our partners are Japanese companies. When we look back on the 2001 World Cup at Taiheyo Club in Gotemba City, we consider it one of the great successes we’ve enjoyed in Japan. With golf’s return to the Olympics, and the Summer Games scheduled for Tokyo in 2020, this is an ideal time for us to continue working with all our stakeholders as we grow golf in Japan. This week 58 non-Americans are in the field in China. And eight of the top 10 in the world tee it up. It is most certainly a “WORLD” Golf Championship. There are 85 international members on the PGA TOUR this season representing 22 countries.  Back in 1976 there were just 21 international players on TOUR representing eight countries. By 1986 it was 29 players from 14 countries and in 1996 it was 47 players from 16 countries. Two decades later and we’ve nearly doubled the number of international players.  Call me a dreamer but I’d love to see the schedule in the future see stops added in South Africa and Australia as well.  In 2016-17, of the 22 countries, Australia boasts 15 players, South Africa 10, the two biggest representations. For the record South Korea has eight (plus there are four other players who identify as Korean Americans). Then we have players from England (8), Argentina (6), Canada (6), Sweden (5), Spain (4), Japan (3), New Zealand (3), Ireland (3), Northern Ireland (2), Columbia (2), Scotland (2), Denmark (1), Fiji (1), Germany (1), India (1), Italy (1), Venezuela (1) Chinese Taipei (1) and Zimbabwe (1). With golf back in the Olympics the future could see even more countries represented. We also have global reach with the Tour, PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, MacKenzie Tour (Canada) and PGA TOUR China. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler will make appearances in China this week. (David Cannon/Getty Images) Imagine the early stages of the season taking in a seven country swing – Malaysia, China, Korea, Japan, Australia, South Africa and Mexico. It would truly be great and help maintain and increase the profile of this great sport around the world. The European Tour has shown how globetrotting can be done effectively and now it is time for the PGA TOUR to put their stamp on the world map.  First things first, the new event in Korea will continue this impressive global growth.  PGA TOUR Deputy Commissioner & Chief Operating Officer Jay Monahan called it “a historic landmark for the PGA TOUR” and it is hard to disagree. “We had such a phenomenal experience in Korea last year at the Presidents Cup, and we hoped an official, permanent event in this great country would be the result of that success,” said Monahan.  “Partnering with a respected business leader like the CJ Corporation means this tournament will be on the Korean sports landscape for years to come. We have a tremendous population of Korean golfers on the PGA TOUR, and we anticipate that will continue as THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES inspires a new generation of players, not only in Korea, but also around the world. “The addition of THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES to our schedule gives us three strong tournaments in consecutive weeks in Asia, and they will play a significant role in shaping the early part of the FedExCup season and the FedExCup chase overall. “South Korea is a beautiful country with a rich golf tradition. Many of our players who have been to the country already know that, and those who haven’t are in for a treat. The fact that valuable FedExCup points will be offered only enhances this tournament’s position on our schedule.” So, do yourself a favor and make sure you check out the HSBC Champions from China this week. Get a feel for golf in Mexico and watch the OHL Classic at Mayakoba on November 10-13. And tune in for the World Cup of Golf from one of the greatest courses in the world – Kingston Heath – in Melbourne on November 24-27 to see the sort of venues the future could hold.  And while it is commendable to keep your patriotic support going for American golfers, take some time to get to know the international stars as well. They all have great stories to tell about their paths to the TOUR.  You won’t be disappointed. 
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 -
Unless you’re in a short-season format or game consisting only of showcase events like the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, chances are you’re going to automatically holster every notable until well into the 2017 portion of the season. Sure, you might find gold at Sheshan International with Rory McIlroy or Dustin Johnson, but the ramifications will cause you stress for way too long if you don’t. Just like no tournament is won on a Thursday, one-and-done leaguers don’t hoist hardware in October. Speaking of better timing for the usual suspects, several have been added to the expanded section of Future Possibilities below. While comprehensive, I’ve still drawn lines relative to overall value and expectations. In other words, commodities like McIlroy and DJ would make sense almost everywhere and, indeed, several sites are listed, but gamers who win are picky in the clutch. Just remember that we assess every field every week throughout the season, anyway, so remaining fluid is a constant component of every strategy. I admit that the $9.5-million purse is tantalizing, but easing into the season is akin to slow-playing pocket aces when another bullet appears in the flop. The setup now is worth the strike later. With no cut, you know you’re going to collect, too. Take it and embrace the power that you’ve generated by reserving a primary. A patient gamer is a smart and successful gamer. Stepping back for a moment, the WGC-HSBC Champions presents a dynamic similar to what we experience at the WGC-Dell Match Play, THE PLAYERS and The Open Championship, albeit the WGCs come with the insurance of putting points and earnings on the board. Testing the proverbial vagaries of match-play competition should be left to the foolish to whom you don’t mind tipping your cap (with an obligatory eye roll, of course). TPC Sawgrass always wins the PGA TOUR’s flagship event where there’s essentially no such thing as a horse for the course. And Mother Nature rules the draw in the U.K. The common thread is that all are lucrative events at which you can hedge toward a world-class option who you might not miss elsewhere. There’s an argument that Sergio Garcia is the only safety because of his uncanny consistency across the board, but he’s the exception to the recommended approach. Rafa Cabrera Bello, Byeong Hun An, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters headline the current stable of internationals who can plug the big gaps. So, without wasting any time, I’m going to throw the Spaniard into play in China. I burned Kaymer in this tournament last year and he failed to deliver, settling for a T30. For all of the ubiquitous motivating factors all golfers face, RCB’s assault on leaderboard all year demand striking while his irons are hot. (Pieters is my alternate if for no other reason than the possibility of him starting forces attention in real time.) Two-man gamers can consider hot hands like Pieters and Alexander Noren for their tandems. Ross Fisher and Alexander Levy are also viable options. FUTURE POSSIBILITIES NOTE: Golfers are sorted alphabetically. Future possibilities are sorted chronologically and reflect previous success on the courses on which the tournaments will be held in 2016-17. All are pending golfer commitment. Daniel Berger … Houston; New Orleans; St. Jude (defending) Paul Casey … Masters; Travelers; WGC-Bridgestone; TOUR Championship Kevin Chappell … RSM; Valero; Deutsche Bank Rickie Fowler … WGC-HSBC; Hyundai; Honda; Houston; PLAYERS; WGC-Bridgestone Sergio Garcia … Genesis; Honda; PLAYERS; Byron Nelson (defending); Open Championship; TOUR Championship Branden Grace … WGC-HSBC; Heritage (defending); U.S. Open; WGC-Bridgestone; PGA Championship Bill Haas … CareerBuilder; Valspar; Wyndham J.B. Holmes … Farmers; Pebble Beach; Genesis; Houston Dustin Johnson … WGC-HSBC; Hyundai; Pebble Beach; Genesis; Masters; Byron Nelson; Memorial; St. Jude; U.S. Open (defending); Canadian; TOUR Championship Martin Kaymer … WGC-HSBC; PLAYERS Kevin Kisner … WGC-HSBC; RSM (defending); Sony; PLAYERS; DEAN & DELUCA; Wyndham Russell Knox … WGC-HSBC (defending); Honda; Heritage; PLAYERS; Travelers (defending); Deutsche Bank Brooks Koepka … Hyundai; Byron Nelson; St. Jude; U.S. Open; PGA Championship Matt Kuchar … Hyundai; Sony; Heritage; Valero; PLAYERS; Byron Nelson; DEAN & DELUCA; Memorial; Canadian; WGC-Bridgestone Hideki Matsuyama … Hyundai; Waste Management (defending); Genesis; Arnold Palmer; Masters; PLAYERS; Memorial; PGA Championship; BMW Rory McIlroy … WGC-HSBC; Masters; WGC-Match Play; PLAYERS; Memorial; WGC-Bridgestone; PGA Championship; Deutsche Bank (defending); TOUR Championship (defending) Francesco Molinari … Arnold Palmer; PLAYERS Ryan Moore … Waste Management; Genesis; Valspar; Travelers; John Deere (defending); TOUR Championship Kevin Na … Shriners; Valspar; Arnold Palmer; Heritage; Memorial; John Deere; Wyndham Louis Oosthuizen … WGC-Match Play; Masters; Deutsche Bank Scott Piercy … Sony; Houston; John Deere; BMW Patrick Reed … WGC-HSBC; Hyundai; Pebble Beach; Valspar; Houston; Wyndham; Deutsche Bank Charl Schwartzel … Memorial; U.S. Open; Open Championship; WGC-Bridgestone Adam Scott … Genesis; Honda (defending); Arnold Palmer; Masters; Memorial; U.S. Open; WGC-Bridgestone; Deutsche Bank; TOUR Championship Henrik Stenson … WGC-HSBC; Valspar; Arnold Palmer; Houston; Open Championship (defending); WGC-Bridgestone; PGA Championship; Deutsche Bank; TOUR Championship Justin Thomas … Honda; Valspar; PLAYERS Jimmy Walker … Hyundai; Sony; Farmers; Pebble Beach; Valero; Greenbrier; PGA Championship (defending); Deutsche Bank Bubba Watson … WGC-HSBC; Hyundai; Waste Management; Genesis (defending); Masters; Travelers; Greenbrier; WGC-Bridgestone; TOUR Championship Lee Westwood … Masters; PLAYERS Gary Woodland … Sony; Byron Nelson; Barracuda; PGA Championship; Deutsche Bank; TOUR Championship Rob’s previous picks: Safeway Open … Justin Thomas (T8); 75.000 FedExCup points; $162,000.00 CIMB Classic … Kevin Na (T29); 27.250 FedExCup points; $46,550.00 WGC-HSBC Champions … Rafa Cabrera Bello RUNNING TOTALS 102.250 FedExCup points $208,550.00  
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 -
TOKYO, Japan – The PGA TOUR continued its commitment to growing the game of golf in Asia with the formation of an office in Tokyo and the hiring of Masashi Ishii as Vice President and Managing Director. Ishii, a Japan native, is a well-known sports executive who will guide the PGA TOUR’s Japan office’s activities as it increases the TOUR’s business efforts in the country and region. Ishii previously had been serving as President of the Jupiter Golf Network since 2010, overseeing all aspects of that company’s golf entertainment distribution. Jupiter Golf Network, a PGA TOUR rights holder and broadcaster of PGA TOUR tournaments for more than two decades, is the flagship channel of Jupiter Telecommunications Inc., a company where Ishii has worked for the last 15 years. Prior to joining Jupiter Telecommunications, Ishii coordinated broadcasting rights for golf and tennis properties for IMG Media between 1996 and 2001. “Japan has always been an important market for golf, and the PGA TOUR sees this as the right time for us to increase our commitment in a country that is rich in golf tradition,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “We have been involved in Japan with our television rights for a long time, and several of our partners are Japanese companies. When we look back on the 2001 World Cup at Taiheyo Club in Gotemba City, we consider it one of the great successes we’ve enjoyed in Japan. With golf’s return to the Olympics, and the Summer Games scheduled for Tokyo in 2020, this is an ideal time for us to continue working with all our stakeholders as we grow golf in Japan. “Bringing in Masa is an important first step,” Finchem continued, “and employing his expertise to oversee our efforts is a critical part of what we’re trying to accomplish. I am thrilled that Masa has agreed to guide our team in Japan.” With the opening of this office, the PGA TOUR will also work closely with the Japan Golf Tour Organization as the two tours continue to help strengthen the game in Japan. Ishii will be involved with all aspects of the TOUR’s International Business Affairs and Global Commerce groups, consulting across their functions, including International Media, Retail Licensing, Sponsorship and TPCs, among other areas. “I am excited to join the PGA TOUR and get to work in my home country,” said Ishii, who played professional golf for five years after graduating from Campbell University in the United States (North Carolina), where he was a member of the school’s golf team. “Undoubtedly, I see the potential of tremendous growth of golf in Japan. I look forward to getting started.” The PGA TOUR already has existing media and business relationships in Japan. PGA TOUR tournaments broadcast on Jupiter Golf Network and NHK weekly reach 26 million homes, expanding to as many as 52 million homes 12 weeks of the year when NHK offers tape-delayed coverage on its free-to-air channel. PGA TOUR Champions and Tour tournaments are also televised in Japan, along with select ancillary programing. This office announcement further solidifies the TOUR’s commitment to Asia. A week ago, the PGA TOUR Champions announced a new event in Japan—the JAPAN AIRLINES Championship at Narita Golf Club. This will be the first official event in Japan for the Tour that features players ages 50 and older. Last year, the TOUR hosted a highly successful Presidents Cup in South Korea, and on October 24, the PGA TOUR announced the CJ Cup, an official-money event scheduled for South Korea, will be added to the 2017-18 Regular Season schedule. Last week the TOUR held the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for a seventh time, and this week in Shanghai, China, the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions is taking place. The PGA TOUR’s international development Tour, the Ping An Bank China Tour – PGA TOUR China Series, concludes its third season in late-November, and next week, the Series will hold its first official tournament outside Mainland China, the Clearwater Bay Open in Hong Kong. In addition, the PGA TOUR will continue as a supporting organization of the International Golf Federation as Japan prepares for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Kasumigaseki Country Club is the host venue for the men’s and women’s golf competitions, and as it did in Brazil at the recently completed Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, the TOUR will assist in the planning and operation of both the men’s and women’s competitions.


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