Talk of a world tour has returned in the form of the Premier Golf League. Here’s what we understand so far…
What is the Premier Golf League?
This is a subsidiary of World Golf Group Limited which, simply put, are the organisers of a new proposed world tour – this would be an 18-event season with a whopping total prize fund of £183 million.
Forty-eight players would compete in 54-hole tournaments with no cut and both an individual and team format. The weekly winner would receive £1.5m of the £7.5m purse. The overall champion will receive a £7.5m bonus with an additional bonus for the winning four-man team.
The individual champion would be decided after 17 events and the 18th would be a team play-off though it has also been reported that a schedule of 10 tournaments might be a more likely alternative.
It would be played over an eight-month season which would begin in January with 10 tournaments played in the United States, with the other eight overseas, and featuring a shotgun start to slot into a five-hour broadcast.
A press release read: “Our players will get four months off – without the pressure of knowing that others are accumulating points while they recharge. They’ll play three days not four – putting less strain on their bodies – and will be part of a team, with team benefits. They will, of course, be required to travel, but on a sensible schedule, and we’ll place them in situ before each of the majors.”
A second statement in as many days explained that ‘The League’ would want to “work with, rather than challenge, existing tours for the betterment of golf”.
The aim would be to launch the new tour in 2022.
Where is the money coming from?
The World Golf Group have partnered with the Raine Group, a merchant banker, while other financing is believed to be coming from Tokyo-based Softbank and private equity investment the United States and the Middle East.
Is this the first time a world tour has been touted?
Greg Norman first proposed a world tour in 1994 but it was quashed by the then PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem who threatened to suspend players who took part in it – the World Golf Championships were later set up.
In 2018 the World Golf Group was reported to be making a renewed bid to launch a world tour but things never materialised.
What are the players saying?
“Those guys have been talking to a few of us for six years,” revealed the ever-honest Rory McIlroy. “They approached me at the end of 2014. They have exploited a couple of holes in the system the way golf at the highest level is nowadays and how it’s sort of transitioned from a competition tour to entertainment, right? It’s on TV, it’s people coming out to watch. It’s definitely a different time than what it was before.
“I love the PGA Tour, I love the way golf is set up right now. I certainly wouldn’t want to lose what’s been built in the last 40 or 50 years, tournaments like this (Torrey Pines), tournaments like Riviera, everything that we have gotten to know and love over the years. It might be a catalyst for some changes on this tour that can help it grow and move forward and reward the top players the way they should be.”
Phil Mickelson played a straighter bat: “I’m curious but I don’t know enough to talk about it. I’m listening to it. I think it’s intriguing, but I just don’t know enough about it to comment publicly. I hope to learn more.”
Where might the overseas events be held?
Rather than create new tournaments the WGG might acquire some events which might, according to reports, include the Australian Open, Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa, the Dubai Desert Classic and the Singapore Open.
What are the PGA and European Tours saying about a world golf tour?
European Tour’s chief executive Keith Pelley: “We’re not in the habit of talking about the business of other tours, whether they are true or fictional. We focus on the business of our tour and the growth that we’re having right now so I don’t really have much more to say.
“I think they’ve been trying to move forward for eight years but I can’t comment on other tours. I wouldn’t comment on the business of the PGA Tour or certainly one that is not real.”
As for the PGA Tour Jay Monahan held a meeting with the players at Torrey Pines but there was only an official statement which read: “We don’t comment on the business of other tours, real or hypothetical.”
They did however announce last week, which may just be a coincidence, that this year’s Players Championship had a new record prize pot of $15m with a staggering $2.7m going to the winner.
What is Tiger’s manager saying?
“It seems to resurface at different times. We’ll see if they take it to the next level,” said Mark Steinberg. “It’s more than a wonderful product that the PGA Tour puts in front of its members, and it seems to get better each year. It’s very stable, it’s becoming more innovative all the time. But, like anything else you have to listen to everyone and all options.
“As long as there is talk this grand, what it might be, you have to at least tell your players what you’re hearing because you don’t want them to hear it on the 1st tee or in the media. To me, its just been a comment I’ve made to the players we work with, and that’s literally all that’s been so far.”
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