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  • Alistair Tait

Now What For the Strategic Alliance?

Where does the PGA Tour’s strategic alliance partner, the European Tour, feature in its planned schedule changes for 2024?

Afterthought is the word that comes to mind.

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley and other top officials in leafy Virginia Waters in Surrey, England must be looking at the news emanating from the mouth of PGA Tour commissioner Rory McIlroy, sorry, Jay Monahan and quietly shaking their heads.

Plans to pay more money to main PGA Tour stars, a commitment for them to play in so-called “designated events” with no cuts and reduced fields sounds an awful lot like the “closed shop” the PGA Tour once was, when good European Tour players struggled to get spots in PGA Tour events. It doesn’t sound like good news for the European circuit John Jacobs created back in the 1970s. JJ must be turning in his grave.

Perhaps the world’s biggest tour will throw its junior partner a bone and make the co-sanctioned Scottish Open one of those designated events. Er, maybe not.

Amazing to think one of the criticisms of LIV Golf has been that it’s a closed shop, and an inferior product because tournaments have no cuts. What’s that old saying about imitation being the highest form of flattery?

Another criticism of LIV Golf was that it was just a money grab. That was the phrase McIlroy made in one of his early criticisms of the so-called rebel tour. If the path the PGA Tour is on right now isn’t a money grab for the top stars then I don’t know what is.

You have to wonder what sponsors of non-designated events think of the proposed changes. Surely CEOs of companies that currently sponsor PGA Tour events must be wondering why they’re bothering? Why spend a ton of money to get the B-team? Last week’s Honda Classic was devoid of star names, even though most of them live not far from the tournament venue.

And so to the European Tour, now the DP World Tour. How do the PGA Tour’s all-singing and dancing new plans help the so far underwhelming strategic alliance with the old world circuit? Surely European Tour members who play the PGA Tour will have to play more in America in order to stay eligible for those larger purse, designated events. And if the likes of Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland and others are having to play more in the US of A than their European appearances are probably going to be limited?

Evidence of the above already exists. European stars now merely pay lip service to the circuit they call home, cherry picking the big events while playing full PGA Tour schedules. Hovland didn’t turn up in the Middle East to defend the Dubai Desert Classic title he won last year. He skipped it and played the following week in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Fitzpatrick didn’t play any of the European Tour’s Desert Swing tournaments. That’s no knock on Fitzpatrick or Hovland: they have to plan schedules that best suit them. However, you don’t have to be a Mensa member to realise that the PGA Tour’s attempt to see off LIV Golf by getting top players to compete against each other more often spells bad news for its strategic alliance partner.

As per PGA Tour sponsors of lesser events, why would companies invest millions in a DP World Tour event and not get any marquee names?

As I said, perhaps Pelley and Monahan are having discussions about how the strategic alliance will save the European Tour from sliding further down the world pecking order.

Let’s hope so or the DP World Tour may just become that word I used in the second sentence: an afterthought.

#JustSaying: “How does this help the so called strategic alliance with the @dpworldtour? … Just proves that the @pgatour have no interest in this alliance.” Richard Bland on Instagram


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