Stars to face Tour appearance orders
It has become clear that more pressure than ever will be exerted on the continent's top stars to force them to play the European Tour's flagship event next year.
As work now begins to dig up the controversial greens on Wentworth's West Course there is growing speculation that Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter will be required to compete on the new putting surfaces at next year's BMW PGA Championship.
All three were absent last week; Harrington and Poulter citing the greens as reason not to attend. Garcia, who subjects himself to strict tax rules that limit his British appearances, has not played the Wentworth event since sharing fifth place there in 2000.
But these, as we know, are very difficult economic times and the sponsors that remain are growing in power. Tour chief executive George O'Grady has made it as plain as he can that they are now in no mood to accept second best.
"I think it would be disappointing if, when there's the investment of Wentworth's owner to completely redo the golf course, we can't persuade them to play," O'Grady said.
"I think BMW in this market can crack the whip reasonably," he added more pertinently.
O'Grady acknowledged the Tour would have been ready to move its flagship event away from Wentworth had they not invested in replacing all 18 greens.
The worry now is whether BMW will be similarly minded if the players don't respond positively.
O'Grady isn't just targeting Harrington (who has already said he will return to Wentworth next year), Poulter and Garcia. He also highlighted the likes of 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman and Geoff Ogilvy, the US Open winner in 2006, who were also absent from the PGA Championship.
O'Grady didn't discount the notion that a future condition of membership of the European Tour might include making participation in the event compulsory.
It hasn't been formally discussed, but I understand the idea may find its way on to the Tournament Committee's agenda.
It's also worth pointing out that for every Harrington and Poulter there is a Lee Westwood or Retief Goosen - neither of whom prosper on Wentworth's greens but remain loyal to the tournament.
Imposing such a rule would be fraught with difficulty, but so too is the golfing economic market at the moment.
Prize money for the European Open was cut by £600,000 this year and September's British Masters is also a credit-crunch casualty with the Belfry event falling off the calendar.
There are also concerns over the strength of the field for the new 16-man World Match Play Championship in Spain in late October. It will be up against the Singapore Open which will be co-sanctioned by the Tour.
And the brutal truth is that more often than not players compete wherever best suits their game or their back pocket. After all, Garcia's tax affairs still allowed him to compete at the Spanish-owned London Club.
Making players adopt schedules that are for the greater good is always awkward, but the current climate may actually make it slightly easier.
Not only is the sponsor's voice increasing in volume, the Tour can point to the enthusiasm of fans who have swarmed to both Wentworth and the European Open.
Nearly 175,000 took advantage of attractive ticket offers to generate superb atmospheres over the last fortnight.
They were treated to a brilliant win by Paul Casey in the PGA Championship, a performance worthy of the event.
The European Open was more attritional, with the unheralded Christian Cevaer proving the last man standing.
It would have been nice for the 31,000-strong final-day crowds to have seen more birdies, but the firm course was set up too tough, with thick rough surrounding firm fairways that proved too narrow in the demanding breezes.
Sadly, it was the last Tour golf in England until we return to Wentworth and its new greens next year. It will be fascinating to see the make up of the field for Casey's title defence.