TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will host a PGA Tour event next October, likely in place of a tournament in Malaysia, as the U.S.-based circuit looks to tap into a more mature and potentially more lucrative golf market in Asia.
A press conference will be held in Tokyo next Tuesday to release details of the event, which will be held Oct. 24-27 at a course in the Tokyo area, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The PGA Tour’s Asian swing will likely remain at three official-money tournaments, with the new event joining the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges on the Korean island of Jeju, and the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai.
The CIMB Classic in Malaysia is expected to fall by the wayside and is not likely to be played in 2019, a different source told Reuters.
The addition of a Japan tournament on the Asian schedule could be a good trade-off, given the country’s mature golf market.
While China has long held appeal to international golf tours, who eye the potential huge market, golf there remains a niche sport and it has more mass appeal in Japan, both for participants and spectators.
The men’s local tour, however, has struggled for years with stagnant purses due to the migration of its top players to the PGA Tour.
The Japan LPGA, however, remains enormously popular, attracting large galleries and regularly outrating the men’s tour on television.
World number one Brooks Koepka is playing this week in Japan, where he is two-time defending champion at the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Miyazaki.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury