Like the once-dormant Canadian PGA Championship itself, the thought of RBC coming on board with the Canadian PGA went into a state of suspended animation until yesterday.
Jon Mills, who is at Congressional prepping for this week’s U.S. Open, is the last winner of the CPGA Championship, which last took place as a Nationwide Tour event in 2005. It is being revived this week as a match play event under a new name, the PGA Championship of Canada.
The return of the national championship came on the heels of new player rankings being introduced by the CPGA and it’s those rankings that determine the seeding for this week’s event at Cottonwood Golf and Country Club near Calgary, where North Vancouver’s Bryn Parry is top dog, at least to start.
Yet, in the case of the rankings, there was very little sponsorship to speak of, but that all changes since word came on Monday that RBC was coming on board as presenting sponsor, which sets the momentum leading up to the start of the national event in Calgary on Wednesday.
Certainly, the players at Cottonwood will be pleased with the news that the top-ranked player at an as yet unspecified date will earn an exemption into the RBC Canadian Open, beginning in 2012. Looking back, one suspects this was a deal that was cooking for quite some time.
I would suspect that it began to take form in January of last year.
Although RBC has partnered itself quite nicely with its sponsorship of the Canadian Open, relationships with Mike Weir and Stephen Ames and announcements such as this and this, it was in Orlando in January, 2010, when an association with the Canadian PGA began to seem possible.
RBC had just become a patron of the PGA of America. You can read that story here. Of course, being the global brand that it is, RBC sees considerable value in markets outside of Canada, so getting involved with the PGA of America didn’t come as a surprise.
However, with its sponsorship of the Canadian Open and its other relationships with Canadian players, support of the CPGA seemed like a natural extension at the time.
Although no financials were disclosed in Monday’s announcement, I suspect the rankings deal comes at a fraction of the cost of RBC’s relationship with the PGA of America. In return, RBC not only gets brand recognition, but also hosting opportunities with clients and CPGA professionals offering clinics/tips.
So, RBC has increased its considerable influence in Canadian golf and, from a Canadian PGA perspective, the one question yet to be answered is what will happen to the exemption into the Canadian Open that was available through its Club Professionals Championship?
It seems unlikely that that the Canadian PGA will get two exemptions into the Open, so I expect it will come to be that the CPC winner will receive an exemption into another event. Whatever the answer is, the Canadian PGA expects to answer that question within a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, the PGA Championship of Canada will go this week with new momentum and the rankings were bound to change even before this announcement, which adds even more incentive to the players.