-- The establishment of the FedEx Cup, a prestigious and lucrative season-long points bonus program for players and the centerpiece to the entire PGA TOUR season;
-- A conclusive PGA TOUR Championship Series of four tournaments that focuses on the final push for the FedEx Cup title. The Championship Series will culminate with THE TOUR Championship Presented by Coca-Cola, which will move from early November to a mid-September slot in the schedule;
-- The creation of the PGA TOUR "Quest for the Card" Fall Series, which follows THE TOUR Championship Presented by Coca-Cola and determines the remainder of the 125 players who will become eligible for the next year's FedEx Cup.
"We are very excited to announce these fundamental changes to the structure of the PGA TOUR, starting in 2007," Finchem said. "Our management team put considerable time and energy into the evaluation process of where we are and where we want to be in the coming years. We challenged ourselves to consider every viable option, from maintaining the current structure to making dramatic changes that best positions the TOUR for long-term appeal and growth.
"Making this ultimate scenario work was dependent upon the creation of a meaningful season-long points race, and we are delighted to announce FedEx's sponsorship of the competition. FedEx has been a great partner of the TOUR for 20 years, and its sponsorship of this compelling enhancement to our schedule will help take our sport to a completely new level. More details are to follow in regard to structure and payouts, but it will be very significant and will command the attention of players and fans alike."
The FedEx Cup competition will culminate with the PGA TOUR Championship Series starting in late August, featuring three full-field tournaments in major markets plus the newly slotted TOUR Championship Presented by Coca-Cola, where the FedEx Cup champion will be determined. The FedEx Cup will offer one of the largest guaranteed bonus payouts of any major sport and the largest single winner's share.
"FedEx has a history of leveraging our sponsorship of the PGA TOUR and its events to target key customer audiences and drive business priorities," said T. Michael Glenn, executive vice president of Market Development and Corporate Communications at FedEx. "The FedEx Cup will expand that successful relationship, providing FedEx with greater visibility and opportunity to reach our customers."
"Changing the format is a great idea, having a new product is a great idea, and ending in a playoff is a great idea," said Davis Love III, one of four player directors on the TOUR's Policy Board. "We want a hotly contested final end of the season that grabs everyone's attention and people really want to watch."
Once the FedEx Cup champion is determined, the PGA TOUR "Quest for the Card" Fall Series will begin - six to seven official money events that will finalize the money list that determines eligibility for the following year's Cup.
"We believe that the new structure will lend cohesive season-long meaning and excitement to our fans, fresh incentive to our players and added value to our sponsors," Finchem said. "We're confident it will benefit tournament field strength over the course of the season, enhance our television exposure and viewership, plus have a positive impact on our tournaments' charitable contributions. We're particularly pleased that this dramatically improved presentation of our sport is being accomplished while preserving an equivalent number of playing opportunities for PGA TOUR members."
"The FedEx Cup will lend a lot of excitement to the TOUR," said player director David Toms. "It is a great way to grow our TOUR and continue to have our brand in the marketplace like it needs to be. I also think the guys will continue to play in the fall and support the tournaments they've always played. And you have the story of the guys trying to keep their cards, which is a huge deal."
Finchem said further details of the new components and the 2007 schedule will be released later this year and in the early months of the 2006 season.
In conjunction with today's news about the FedEx Cup, Finchem announced that beginning in 2007, Stanford Financial Group will replace FedEx as the title sponsor of the PGA TOUR's FedEx St. Jude Classic. FedEx, which became title sponsor in 1986, will continue to have a significant involvement with the tournament and plans to be as the presenting sponsor. The new event will be called the Stanford St. Jude Classic.
About the PGA TOUR
The PGA TOUR is a tax-exempt membership organization of professional golfers. Its primary purpose is to provide competitive earnings opportunities for past, current and future members of the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour; to protect the integrity of the game; and to help grow the reach of the game in the U.S. and around the world.
Nearly 110 events have been contested on the three Tours in 2005, for approximately $320 million in prize money. In addition to providing competitive opportunities for its membership, TOUR events also generate significant sums of money for charity. TOUR events have just eclipsed the $1 billion mark in all-time charitable giving, dating back to 1938, the first year such records were kept. The PGA TOUR's Web site address is www.pgatour.com.
FedEx Corp. (NYSE:FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $30 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 250,000 employees and contractors to remain "absolutely, positively" focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit www.fedex.com.