The PGA Tour now holds a stake in European Tour – but what does it all mean? Elsewhere, Paul Casey has changed his mind about Saudi Arabia. Alex Perry wraps up the week's tour news
Hello. There was no PGA Tour event this week, which meant it was the perfect time to get in some news from the business side of things – and it finally has a foot in the door at the European Tour.
Everyone inside the PGA and European Tours are calling it a “strategic alliance”, while everyone outside the PGA and European Tours is calling it the first steps to the inevitable takeover.
Whichever side of the fence you’re on, the facts are that the PGA Tour now has a stake in the European Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan a place on the executive board.
The agreement will see the two tours collaborate on media rights as well as global scheduling, prize funds, and playing opportunities.
So what does it all mean? Let’s break it down…
Takeover, merger, or partnership?
It’s hard not to get sucked into the hyperbole, especially when the European Tour’s chief executive Keith Pelley is batting away questions with the efficiency of a Tory frontbencher.
And even when he did, he didn’t sound at all convincing.
“Emphatically, this is not a merger,” he said. “I read one tweet that said a takeover is inevitable because of the situation that we are in. We are categorically not in financial difficulties, that is simply wrong.”
Regardless of the European Tour’s financially stability, it’s hard not to see this as the first move toward a world tour – or WORLD TOUR – run by our friends in the US.
What about the players?
Pelley says “every [European Tour] member is at the forefront of our thinking” and the plan, according to Golfweek, will involve a “marrying of schedules” that will almost certainly see a number of prestigious European Tour events that take place between the Tour Championship in September and the Players in March awarded FedEx Cup points in a bid to entice US-based players across the Atlantic.
“That is a realistic possibility and that has been discussed in great depth,” Pelley said.
As for European-based players looking to make the step up – and it is a step up, however much we argue on the contrary – to the PGA Tour, it can only be a positive move.
The death of the PGL?
Remember the Premier Golf League?
The breakaway tour that was proposing a Formula 1-style circuit involving the world’s best players had already been knocked to the canvas earlier this year when Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka – then the world’s top three – all publically dismissed the idea.
Undeterred, the Raine Group, the private equity firm funding the PGL came in with what Pelley described as “a very compelling offer to take the European Tour to another level but in a different direction”.
He added: “Ultimately, we felt partnering with the PGA Tour was the best option for our members and for global golf, a decision that was made unanimously by the board of directors.”
What that means now for the PGL remains to be seen, but a source told the Telegraph‘s James Corrigan that the proposal is “dead in the water”.
What does it mean for the Ryder Cup?
Ah, the subplot!
If the PGA Tour were to take over the European Tour, we’d have the strange situation where the PGA Tour has control of the European half of the Ryder Cup’s business. The PGA of America owns the other half.
Aside from that, there’s the revenue argument. It’s common knowledge that Ryder Cups on this side of the Atlantic keep the European Tour financially stable, but do you think the
Sparks will fly on this one – and it could be as interesting as the Ryder Cup itself. Stay tuned.
Casey’s Saudi U-turn
“There are a lot of places in the world that I have played and continue to go which you could question [in terms of] human rights violations that governments have committed, but I thought I’d sit this one out.”
That was UNICEF ambassador Paul Casey last year when questioned before the inaugural Saudi International.
Unfortunately for Casey the internet never forgets, so it’s not a surprise to see this quote doing the rounds in the last few days after the Englishman committed to the 2021 staging in February.
If you’re wondering about his reasons, he said: “This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly. I wasn’t comfortable going in the past, but I have always been open minded and willing to learn.
“I believe sport has the power to affect change. I’ve listened to the Saudi’s commitment to this and their vision for the future. It is always better to include rather than exclude when eliciting change, thus I hope my participation will make a difference and I am looking forward to seeing these changes in person.”
Also signed up are Masters champion Dustin Johnson, who won in 2019 and was runner-up this year, while US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson will also be part of a field that will almost certainly be stronger than that of the Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale, which will be played the same week.
Who won on tour this week?
Forget DJ, the hottest golfer on the planet right now is Emily Pedersen.
The Danish 24-year-old won the Ladies European Tour season-ending Open de Espana for her third LET title in three weeks, fourth LET title since August, and fifth overall.
Pedersen is just the second player to win three LET tournaments in a row. Marie-Laure de Lorrenzi was the other – way back in 1989.
On the European Tour, Christiaan Bezuidenhout won his second title in 18 months when he stormed to a four-shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.
If you haven’t read Bezuidenhout’s incredible back story, it’s well worth five minutes of your time.
Next in line to put the Nappy Factor to the test is Jon Rahm.
The Spaniard announced via Instagram that he and wife Kelley are expecting their first child.
Right, that’s enough from me. Have a good week and, if you’re in England, enjoy getting back out on the course.
In the meantime, don’t forget to…