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World Cup leaves WGC & moves to China

The World Cup finally got a title sponsor Monday, but the team event that has struggled to attract top players from every country will no longer be part of the World Golf Championships when it begins a 12-year deal in China.

Omega has agreed to be the title sponsor of the event that dates to 1953 when it began as the Canada Cup. It will be held Nov. 22-25 on the Mission Hills Golf Club's Olazabal Course in Shenzhen.

The two-man team event began in 1953 as the Canada Cup and attracted golf's greatest players, such as Peter Thomson of Australia, Gary Player of South Africa and Seve Ballesteros of Spain. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer teamed to win four times for the United States.

It became part of the WGC series in 2000, but after Tiger Woods stopped playing in 2001, several countries had trouble getting their best players to compete. The United States was represented last year in Barbados by Stewart Cink and J.J. Henry, and only two of the top 10 in the world -- Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Luke Donald of England -- played last year.

The International Federation of PGA Tour, which consists of the six major golf tours in the world, will sanction the $5 million event, but it will not be part of the WGC series.

That means all the WGC events this year will be played in the United States -- the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona next month, the CA Championship at Doral in Miami and the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in Akron, Ohio.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and European tour chief George O'Grady said last fall that Mission Hills would host the World Cup for two years, then get a World Golf Championship the following 10 years.

It was not immediately clear how the announcement Monday affects those plans.

January 31, 2007

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