PGA TOUR Champions announces first PGA TOUR-sanctioned event to be contested in Japan
JAPAN AIRLINES Championship will be played in Tokyo starting in 2017
PGA TOUR Champions and Japan Airlines (JAL) announced today a new event to be contested in suburban Tokyo, beginning in 2017. The JAPAN AIRLINES Championship, the first ever PGA TOUR-sanctioned event to be held in Japan, will be played at Narita Golf Club in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, Japan the week of September 4-10, 2017.
The announcement was made at the Tokyo American Club in Japan, with PGA TOUR Champions President Greg McLaughlin, Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. President Yoshiharu Ueki, U.S. Embassy of Tokyo Minister-Counselor Andrew Wylegala, World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Watson, Accordia Golf Co., Ltd. President & CEO Yuko Tashiro and PGA of Japan Chairman Massy Kuramoto on hand for the unprecedented unveiling of the newest PGA TOUR Champions event.
“We are honored to welcome Japan Airlines into the PGA TOUR family, as we continue to further globalize PGA TOUR Champions and the legends of the game for golf fans around the world,” said PGA TOUR Champions President Greg McLaughlin. “The JAPAN AIRLINES Championship will be an exciting new venture for our Tour, and will allow our players and fans to experience the golf-rich culture that is Tokyo.”
The inclusion of the JAPAN AIRLINES Championship on the PGA TOUR Champions schedule comes on the heels of golf’s successful return to the Olympic Games for the first time in 112 years. The worldwide support of golf on an international platform has allowed the PGA TOUR to expand its roots overseas, with today’s announcement in Tokyo furthering that commitment.
“This will be a wonderful opportunity for the Japanese audience to witness first-hand the skills and humanity of the PGA TOUR Champions players, including members of the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Japan Airlines President Yoshiharu Ueki. “I am honored to invite 60 PGA TOUR Champions players to ride on the wings of JAL to Japan to participate in this event, and hope that this tournament will develop familiarity with our country around the world and in the United States, in turn creating more opportunities for people to visit.”
Established in 1951, JAL is the original national airline of Japan, with service to over 51 countries annually and over 31 million worldwide members of its loyalty program, JAL Mileage Bank. The company hosts over 32 million domestic passengers, and 8 million international travelers, each year.
Watson, a 14-time winner on PGA TOUR Champions and a longtime ambassador of golf’s expansion internationally, emphasized the importance of the groundbreaking nature of the JAPAN AIRLINES Championship during Tuesday’s press conference.
“I am thrilled to be a part of today’s exciting announcement as we bring PGA TOUR Champions golf to Japan,” said Watson. “It is important that we continue to develop the next generation of golfers – both in the United States and abroad – and I know first-hand that the passion and love for the game the Japanese fans inherently enjoy will help to make this a marquee stop on our schedule.”
Watson, who notched 39 victories during his PGA TOUR career, won the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan in 1980 and 1997, claiming the latter title at the age of 48.
The JAPAN AIRLINES Championship will feature a $2.5 million purse and a field of 68 professionals, including up to eight local sponsor exemptions.
The announcement comes one week before the start of the inaugural Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs – a three-event, season-ending Playoff series to determine the season-long champion on PGA TOUR Champions. With its fall slot on the schedule, the JAPAN AIRLINES Championship will play a key role in determining which players advance to the Playoffs, which were formed as part of a record-setting 20-year marketing partnership between Charles Schwab & Co., and the PGA TOUR in 2015.
For more information on PGA TOUR Champions, or the JAPAN AIRLINES Championship, please visit www.PGATOUR.com.
About Japan Airlines
Japan Airlines (JAL) was founded in 1951 and became the first international airline in Japan. A member of the oneworld® alliance, the airline now reaches more than 305 airports in 51 countries and regions together with its codeshare partners with a modern fleet of more than 220 aircraft. JAL Mileage Bank (JMB), the airline's loyalty program, has reached over 31 million members worldwide. Awarded the most punctual major international airlines in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015, JAL is committed to providing customers with the highest levels of flight safety and supreme quality in every aspect of its service, and aims to become the most preferred airline in the world. For more information, please visit http://www.jal.com/en/outline/
About PGA TOUR Champions
PGA TOUR Champions is a membership organization of golfers age 50 and older, with the most recognizable and accomplished players in the game - including 34 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, which compete regularly in its events. PGA TOUR Champions is where Legends play, and is home to The Ultimate Clubhouse. Conceived in 1980 as the Senior PGA Tour, it started with just four events and purses totaling $475,000. The primary purpose of PGA TOUR Champions is to provide financial opportunities for its players, entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back, protect the integrity of the game and generate significant charitable and economic impact in communities in which it plays. In 2016, the newly-introduced Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs will identify and recognize the Tour’s leading player via a season-long race for the Charles Schwab Cup. The Commissioner of the PGA TOUR is Tim Finchem. Greg McLaughlin is President of PGA TOUR Champions. The PGA TOUR’s website is pgatour.com, the No. 1 site in golf, and the organization is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Follow PGA TOUR Champions at facebook.com/PGATOURChampions and on Twitter @ChampionsTour.
About ACCORDIA GOLF CO., LTD.
ACCORDIA GOLF CO., LTD., was founded as a golf course operation company based on a new brand strategy, with a listing on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange starting in November of 2006. ACCORDIA creates a new direction for golf in Japan based on the concept of, “It’s a new game,” which regards golf as a sport that can be played casually. In addition, the company carried out activities to convey the attraction of golf to those who did not have the opportunity to be touched by the game thus far. Including Narita Golf Club, ACCORDIA operates 136 golf course locations and 26 golf practice facilities, geared towards those who want to enjoy golf in life, as well as juniors and beginners to meet the various needs of the comprehensive golf and service industry. It is our goal to create a new scene in golf.
About Narita Golf Club
Narita Golf Club is the flagship course of ACCORDIA. Easily accessed from both Tokyo and the Narita Airport, it is a golf course where you can enjoy high-quality golf close to center city. An 18-hole, Mr. Taizou Kawata design, the course is spread into gentle hills which left as much nature as possible, while leaving a respectably different flavor on each hole, with a dramatic finish much like the conclusion of a story. The fairways at Narita Golf Club are spacious, but many of the shots have a narrow feel to them due to the visual effects, which strategically stir the willingness of the player to challenge. The clubhouse at Narita Golf Club was designed by Mr. Takashi Sugimoto. The design concept of wood and stone has become a space decorated with the comfort and the margin in the orthodox appearance, which leaves timeless tones for all to enjoy the club life.