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PGA TOUR China partners with Shankai Sports

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Shankai Sports has signed an agreement to partner with the PGA TOUR and manage the operations of PGA TOUR China’s new series for a 20-year period from 2018, both parties announced on Thursday. The PGA TOUR China Series was held from 2014 through 2016 and will resume with qualifying schools next month after a year’s hiatus.

Beijing-based Shankai, which has worked with the IOC, FIFA and UEFA, will manage the day-to-day operations of the series in partnership with the PGA TOUR. The PGA TOUR Series-China will continue to reward the top five on its Order of Merit with membership of the Web.com Tour, the path to the PGA TOUR, and with additional benefits for the next 15 players. 

After 12 events in its first two years and 13 in 2016, PGA TOUR China’s 2018 series will feature 14 events with purses of RMB1.5 million, 25 per cent higher than in the first three years.

Greg Gilligan, PGA TOUR Vice President and Greater China Managing Director, said: “PGA TOUR China is truly thrilled to be partnering with Shankai Sports on the PGA TOUR Series-China. Shankai is a world-class organization with great experience of connecting the expectations of international sport bodies with an understanding of the Chinese market.

“With Shankai as our new partner, PGA TOUR China is proud to say that the series is back – bigger and better. It will have more tournaments and significantly more prize money.

“Most importantly, the series still offers the top players membership on the Web.com Tour, which remains the path to the PGA TOUR, a path taken by Zecheng Dou and Xinjun Zhang.”

In August, Dou and Zhang were confirmed as the first Chinese members of the PGA TOUR after qualifying through the Web.com Tour, having finished first and fifth respectively on PGA TOUR China’s 2016 Order of Merit.

Shankai also announced that it was embarking on its new venture boosted by a RMB300 million investment from private equity firms Yao Capital – whose founders include NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming and investment veteran David Han – and IDG Capital, a leading investment institution which was an early investor in many world-renowned Chinese internet and technology companies.

Hong Li, Chairwoman and co-founder of Shankai Sports, which also has offices in Lausanne and Zurich in Switzerland, said: “Working with PGA TOUR China and managing the series as part of the path to the PGA TOUR is a huge responsibility and one we’re determined to fulfil. Shankai Sports has worked with many of the world’s leading sports organisations and we always feel a duty to do our best and help raise the profile of sport in China.

“Operating the PGA TOUR Series-China is a major undertaking and we’re delighted to be starting this new era with the backing of major financial players like Yao Capital and IDG Capital, who have vast experience of supporting companies with potential for major growth.”

David Han, CEO of Yao Capital, co-founded the private equity firm in January 2016 with Yao Ming and others, and was a firm supporter of Shankai’s new ambitions.

“Yao Capital is one of the leading private equity investment firms focused on sports-themed opportunities in China and overseas with a China angle,” said Han, former Chief Investment Officer of China Wanda Group and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group.

“Shankai Sports, especially following its partnership with PGA TOUR China, is one of the leaders in the Chinese sports industry and we’re excited to back a company that’s looking to help grow the sport in China and propel local athletes onto the world stage.”

IDG Capital was founded in 1993 and has invested in over 600 companies, of which over 120 have gone public or been acquired, including world-renowned companies like Baidu, Tencent, Sohu, Meitu and Xiaomi. The company has 13 offices across Asia, Europe and USA.

Jianguang Li, a Partner at IDG Capital, said: “IDG Capital is very happy to support Shankai Sports and its new ventures including PGA TOUR China, which represents one of the world’s great sports brands.

“As investors, we see the huge potential of sport in China for years to come, and are very happy to support Shankai and PGA TOUR China during a time of exciting growth.”

Qualifying schools for PGA TOUR Series-China will start from late January, with the series starting in March.