World Series of Golf inks 13-episode cable TV deal

LAS VEGAS (AP) " Organizers of an amateur golf tournament with rules based loosely on poker have signed a deal with cable network WGN America to air the mid-May tournament in 13 one-hour episodes.

The World Series of Golf is also upping its top prize from $250,000 to $300,000 in its third year, with each player required to pay a $10,000 entry fee to play.

In the unique format, dozens of amateur players bet on their strokes with poker chips, winning chips when they finish holes in fewer strokes or by forcing opponents to fold.

Rules for the tournament are based on betting patterns similar to no-limit Texas Hold 'em. Players can go all-in after their tee shot, or fold and move on to the next hole if they hit a lousy shot. The player with the fewest strokes each hole wins the pot for that hole. Automatic bets, or antes, increase every three holes, driving up betting and the pots.

The tournament aired in two one-hour slots on CBS last year at the start of a three-year deal. But World Series of Golf President Terry Leiweke said the tournament opted out of the network deal because he though cable would bring more flexibility to airing the tournament, and it was too expensive to simply buy airtime on CBS.

"I'd say our first two years (on television) were OK, but they weren't stellar," Leiweke said. "What was disappointing about that was that the material was there to make them stellar. And the material was character development."

Leiweke said he did not like that the previous deal brought exposure for the tournament and its quirky format without allowing viewers to get to know the hobby golfers willing to put up their own money to play in the event.

"I was kind of sick to my stomach because I knew that we had kinda missed this a little bit," Leiweke said.

Last year's top prize was won by Andy Johnson, a 36-year-old auto wholesaler from Davison, Mich.

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