MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The PGA Tour announced a World Golf Championship event is coming to Memphis.
The event, which will be called the World Golf Championship FedEx/St. Jude Invitational, will come to the Bluff City in 2019.
David Bronczek, president and COO of FedEx Corporation, made the announcement at a news conference on Thursday.
PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan said the event's official date is set but is not being announced yet. However, he did say event will be around the same time as the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, which takes place August 1-5 in 2018.
"I'm extremely excited. When I first heard the rumblings, I was definitely in favor of it. I'm really excited to play this golf course. I always take the week before majors off so I was never able to make it, but I'm excited to come here," defending PGA Champion winner Justin Thomas said.
Along with Monahan, Thomas, and Bronczek, FedEx/St. Jude Classic Board Chairman Jack Sammons and ALSAC/St. Jude CEO Rick Shadyac were also in attendance at Shelby Farms for the news conference.
"Let me just say this is an awesome day. It's not just how I feel about it, but how the entire PGA feels about it," Monahan said. "I just want to step back and say thank you to FedEx. The amount of people that are here and the look on their faces says it all. There's a lot of excitement."
Memphis-based FedEx, which sponsors the PGA Tour's year ending FedEx Cup, pushed to bring a WGC level event to its home city.
The World Golf Championship, which will replace the FESJC on the 2019 Tour Schedule, will bring more higher profile players to Memphis than annually come for the FESJC. The top 50 players in the world automatically qualify plus a few additional qualifiers including Ryder Cup team members and winners from select tournaments around the world.
Monahan said that at the moment Tiger Woods, who's ranked No. 88 in the world, would not qualify for the event.
Memphis is replacing the WGC Bridgestone Classic in Akron, Ohio and joining Austin, Mexico City, and Shanghai as hosts of the World Golf Championships.
As for the fundraising side the FedEx St. Jude Classic had a pro-am attached to it that brought in a large of amount donations for St. Jude. With no pro-am associated with the WGC, other options are being explored for charity.
"I think we're probably going to do a big concert, and then while we can't do a pro-am, there's going to be a lot of celebrities that are going to want to come in and see the world's 50 best golfers. So we can have a celebrity amateur tournament," Shadyac said.
The estimated financial impact to the city is around $40-60 million.
"This is the biggest sports announcement since the Memphis Grizzlies relocated from Vancouver to Memphis," Kevin Kane, with Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. "This is a game changer for this destination. It will help tourism. It will help corporate relocation. It will help companies. The ripple effect is enormous."
"I think the economic impact is far greater than what they say. They quoted $40-60 million. I'm not sure we know yet. We think it's enormous," Bronczek said. "This will change the way the world looks at our city. It'll change the way the golfers look at our city. It'll change the way the players look at St. Jude, and hopefully this is a long term relationship that's gonna be second to none."
It marks a new era for golf in the Bluff City,, and a new relationship among the PGA, FedEx, and St Jude.
A few years ago, there was concern the classic would be dropped from the PGA's lineup, but talks helped solidify Memphis' place and now elevate its status.
"Our goal was, how do we make it great? How do we make something we have that's good, how do we make it great?" Bronczek asked.
The FedEx St Jude classic has raised roughly $38 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital over a span of four decades. There's no doubt now that number will climb even higher.
"To be part of the World Golf Championship, I'm so happy for St. Jude, but I'm also happy for our great city, and I can't wait to showcase the city of Memphis to the world," Shadyac, president and CEO of ALSAC/St. Jude, said.
The final FedEx St. Jude Classic will be played in June.