The eight-event circuit begins in March, offering $30 million in prize money. So far, no PGA player has ruled out the World Golf Tour, even though some events will conflict with PGA tournaments.
Mr. Murdoch is paying an estimated $250 million for the tour's global TV rights for 10 years. Seven of the tour's events next year will be televised by his media properties-Fox Broadcasting Co. in the U.S.; British Sky Broadcasting in the U.K.; Star TV in Asia; the Fox Latin America Channel; and stations in Australia.
In the past year, Fox has also picked up TV rights to NFL and NHL games.
The expansion into golf comes a little more than a month after John Matoian, a former CBS executive, was named Fox Entertainment Group president with a mandate to tap a broader, less youthful audience.
Fox's latest move "makes a tremendous amount of sense," said Lou Schultz, Lintas USA exec VP-director of media services. "It's not about appealing to young or old but building a full-service network, just like ABC did through sports in the early '60s. It's about being a broadcaster and having that kind of marketplace presence. It's about building a global brand and a global media empire."
Mr. Norman's marketing company, Great White Shark Enterprises, is said to be the major force behind the new tour. John Montgomery Jr., who had been president of Executive Sports in Boca Raton, Fla., will be WGT executive director.
Advertising Age has learned that Dole Food Co. Chairman-CEO David Murdock was present at meetings with Fox executives and WGT organizers and indicated extreme interest in sponsorship and advertising opportunities.
Reebok International would also be interested, said Richie Woodward, president of the company's golf division.
Mr. Norman has a lifetime endorsement deal with Reebok.
The PGA Tour has strict guidelines on where and when its players can play. However, the tour has been the subject of a Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation for two years, and golf insiders speculate the two tours could reach a compromise that could bring PGA events into the other tour.