- Alistair Tait
Yet Another Strategic Alliance Setback?
There surely has to a collective shaking of heads from European golf fans following Jay Monahan’s press conference ahead of this week’s Tour Championship. Perhaps even a sense of doom at European Tour headquarters about the future of the DP World Tour.
The PGA Tour commissioner seems to have made things difficult for the European Tour, now the DP World Tour, to persuade star players with dual PGA Tour membership to play more on their home circuit in future.
As Monahan revealed, the top PGA Tour players have committed to a 20–tournament schedule starting with the 2022/23 season. Thirteen tournaments have already been named: the major championships, the three FedEx Cup playoff tournaments, the Players Championship, Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Memorial Tournament, WGC–Dell Match Play, Sentry Tournament of Champions, three PGA Tour events of the players' choosing, and another four tournaments to be announced in the coming weeks.
“Our top players are firmly behind the tour, helping us deliver an unmatched product to our fans, who will be all but guaranteed to see the best players competing against each other in 20 events or more throughout the season,” Monahan said. “This is an extraordinary and unprecedented commitment, a testament to who these guys are and what they believe in.”
In addition, the Player Impact Program has been increased to $100 million and will be dealt out to 20 players instead of the current 10. Every PGA Tour player will be guaranteed a minimum of $500,000 in what is being termed an “earnings assurance program.”
It's all part of the PGA Tour’s attempt to stave off the LIV Golf threat, to encourage players to shun the Saudi-backed league and stay loyal to the PGA Tour.
Rory McIlroy, who along with Tiger Woods has been instrumental in encouraging top players to stay on the PGA Tour, backed the move.
“I think having the top players in the world playing together more often and competing against each other more often is what everyone wants,” McIlroy said. “It’s what the players want. It’s what the fans want, most importantly.”
Maybe it’s what PGA Tour fans want, but it might not be what European Tour fans want, or what the European Tour needs right now. There is a proviso, of course: hopefully some/all of those four yet to be named tournaments will be on the European Tour schedule.
As I’ve highlighted ad nauseam, the European Tour is a now shadow of its former self precisely because our top stars play more in the United States and only cherry pick big-money events on their home circuit, especially those that pay appearance money.
You don’t have to have a Mensa member to realise increasing the quota of PGA tournaments for star players means top Europeans with dual membership will play even more in the United States next year, perhaps to the detriment of their home circuit. To make matters worse, the top 10 players on the Race to Dubai at the end of this season who aren’t PGA Tour members receive PGA Tour cards. So even more European Tour members will be heading stateside next year.
Not quite sure when he made his announcement that Monahan referenced his “strategic alliance” partner, the DP World Tour, and how it will benefit from the 20–tournament cash-bonanza. Maybe it’s in the small print he agreed with European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley when the two bodies announced the "strategic alliance."
As I said, perhaps the long awaited benefits for Europe from a tie up with the PGA Tour are still in the pipeline. Let's hope so because, as things stand, Monahan's plans surely mean yet another strategic alliance setback?
#JustSaying: “Players coming together to continue to want to make the PGA Tour better I think is really the silver lining here,” Jordan Spieth