DUBLIN, Ohio — The PGA Tour first started going to Asia in 2009, when the HSBC Champions tournament in China became a World Golf Championship.
Since then, the PGA Tour has added events in Malaysia and South Korea, and then Malaysia gave way to the Zozo Championship in Japan, which Tiger Woods won last year.
This strange year of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to mean no Asia swing at all.
China announced last week it was canceling all sporting events for the rest of 2020 except for trials related to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The HSBC Champions is said to have little interest in moving, mainly because the acronym stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. It's all about the market it serves.
As for the other Asia events? The tour has begun exploring the idea of moving each to the western part of the United States for this fall only.
Even if the coronavirus situation is stable in Asia by the fall, it's unlikely many of the top players would build a trip to the Far East into their schedules just a few weeks before the Masters on Nov. 12-15 at Georgia's Augusta National Golf Club. Any move was described as being a long way off, however.
Two people aware of the talks said one possibility for the Zozo Championship was Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. That's where Woods previously held his World Challenge in December, and it was recently the site of a PGA Tour Champions event.
The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in South Korea is scheduled for Oct. 15-18, the week after the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, leading to speculation the PGA Tour would look into being in the Nevada city for two weeks.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the discussions are in the early stages, and other sites are under consideration depending on the title sponsors.
The Asia Swing last year had quite a trio of winners: Justin Thomas (CJ Cup), who's currently No. 3 in the World Golf Ranking; Woods (Zozo), whose win in Japan tied Sam Snead's record for PGA Tour victories at 82; and Rory McIlroy (HSBC), the current No. 1 in the world.
As for the PGA Tour's feeder circuits in Canada, China and Latin America, those have been canceled for the year because of the pandemic. However, those players now at least get a chance to compete because the international tours will sanction an eight-tournament series in the South.
The PGA Tour has signed up LOCALiQ, its official partner for digital marketing services, to sponsor the series. It will feature seven 54-hole tournaments on golf courses in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, with a 72-hole final event. The winner of the last event and the top two players on a points list will receive an exemption into a PGA Tour event next year, with other perks to be announced later.
"We have so many gifted, hard-working players who were anxious to play this season on their respective tours before the effects of COVID-19 caused us to change our plans," said Rob Ohno, the PGA Tour's senior vice president of international tours.
Each event will have a 144-man field play for a $100,000 purse paying $16,000 to the winner. It starts the first week in August and ends the last week in October.