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PGA Seniors to play new Champions Tour

The PGA Tour is changing the name of its 50-and-over circuit to the “Champions Tour” with hopes of appealing to a broader base of fans.

During his annual L “State of the Tour” message Wednesday, commissioner Tim Finchem said the Champions Tour would have at least three fewer tournaments to keep the seniors from playing the same weeks as major championships and other big events.

The developmental tour will change names for the fourth time since its inception in 1990. What was the Tour will be called the Nationwide Tour, reflecting a new five-year sponsorship deal.

Finchem also said the PGA Tour will have a fully sponsored schedule for 2003, although it might lose one opposite-field event in the fall.

The name change for the seniors was embraced by some of its star players.
“I see myself as a champion, and I think this new tour name will broaden the definition of that word,” said Hale Irwin, who last week became the first senior to earn more than $3 million in one season.

Finchem said the change from Senior PGA Tour to Champions Tour was not solely because of negative connotations to the word “senior.”

“The bigger question here was in terms of extending the strength of the PGA Tour brand in a relevant way to reach the broader fan,” he said. “We felt ‘champions’ resonated better than ‘seniors.”’

The PGA Tour logo of a player swinging a golf club will be included in the branding of all three tours.

Nationwide, a Columbus, Ohio-based insurance and financial services company, becomes the third title sponsor of the developmental tour in the last six years.
What started as the Hogan Tour in 1990 became the Nike Tour until took over in 2000. Finchem said the prize money would be nearly $500,000 per event, with some tournaments even more lucrative.

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