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European Tour will survive slashed bonuses

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Iain Carter | 15:31 UK time, Monday, 9 January 2012

In 2008, the European Tour were shouting from the top of Dubai’s skyscrapers about the news of a massive cash injection from the Emirate that would bring “a new dimension” to their schedule.

This year, that most lavish of launches has been replaced by a low-key email telling of a reduced bonus pool available for this year’s Race to Dubai.

It is a sign of the current economic times that the Tour’s top golfers will not be able to cash in on their ability this year to the extent they have in previous ones.

Three years ago, just as the “Race to Dubai” was being launched, the world economy crashed.

Race to Dubai

World number one Luke Donald clinched the Race To Dubai trophy in 2011. Photo: Getty

An immediate restructuring of the deal was required to keep the concept alive. Instead of $10m (£6.5m) being split between the top 15 in the Order of Merit, the fund to finance the newly branded Race quickly became $7.5m (£4.86m).

The purse for the new season-ending Dubai World Championship was similarly reduced.

Last month, on the day that Luke Donald became the third world number one to win the Race, the Tour announced a three-year extension to the running of the championship, with its prize money rising to $8m (£5.2m).

It will be known as the “DP World Tour Championship” but the size of the bonus pool has only now been revealed to have suffered a significant drop.

The contract has been extended a further three years with the spoils halved and only the top 10 finishers gaining a piece of the $3.75m (£2.42m) now on offer.

So how big a blow is this? Does it signal a significant downturn in the fortunes of the European Tour at a time when its players are enjoying unprecedented success?

Certainly the figures would suggest as much but that only applies if you consider a bonus pool as vital to the Tour for attracting top talent to play its events. That is patently not the case.

It is hard to imagine leading players changing their schedules because they will only gain an extra $1m (£640,000) rather than $1.5m (£970,000) for already earning more money than their rivals.

Furthermore, the creation of the Race to Dubai did not succeed in dragging players away from the PGA Tour or result in a raft of Americans signing up to play European events.

It would have been naive to have imagined such a scenario and it is hard to see any size of bonus pool making that kind of difference.

Indeed, American golf, bolstered by lucrative new television contracts, is riding purposefully through the economic turbulence. It remains strong despite not having a native among the world’s top four players.

Of that quartet, only Martin Kaymer isn’t committed to the PGA Tour in 2012, but Donald, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy will also play their share on the European Tour.

The future strength of the European circuit is much more dependent on astute scheduling than the size of an end-of-season cash carve-up.

Last season there were no fewer than nine weeks when the European Tour staged tournaments that offered more world ranking points than were simultaneously available in America.

This is the currency that most interests the best players. The rankings are the key to them being able to pick and choose the events they want to play.

It’s why the upcoming Abu Dhabi Championship will have such a strong field and why tournaments like the Alfred Dunhill Links in the autumn carry such prestige.

The quality of tournaments and venues is also of paramount importance, hence the staging of this year’s Irish Open at Royal Portrush is hugely welcome news.

Adding another links venue to the run up to the Open Championship can only attract a higher quality field. The move is the dividend from the Northern Ireland major wins of McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell.

Rest assured no one will be complaining about the size of the bonus pool as many of the Tour’s finest players tackle one of the greatest courses in the United Kingdom.

Even so, there have been bullish noises from America already this year, with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem talking of “a solid growth rate” and re-stating his belief that there will be more global integration in the running of the game.

“Nobody’s jumping up and down saying we have to do that [work with the European Tour] tomorrow,” he told reporters at the season opener in Hawaii.

“I just think that eventually the value of that, if you look at sports like soccer and tennis that are globally integrated, you can leverage contracts much better on a global basis.

“We are all out selling television rights globally. That has been a big part of our growth in the last ten years, but to do that together would make sense.”

While not signalling a major shift in the way that world golf will be run in the near future, these remain interesting comments from the man who runs the American tour.

Finchem knows the value of working with circuits like the European Tour is high because it provides further access to the world’s best players. That won’t change just because the size of the bonus money has been halved.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Excellent Blog Iain.
    I dont think many of the top Golfers will care too much about the drop in Bonus available. They are so minted anyway its more about the glory. Its more the journeymen like Brian Davis, Kenneth Ferrie and Robert Rock who might feel the pinch more.

  • Comment number 2.

    Happy new year to everyone.

    I hadn't noticed the announcement about the Race to Dubai bonus pool being reduced but not surprising really. I don't see this making any real difference to the players as the money throughout the season is big enough. As Iain says, at the higher end of the tour, it's the ranking points which are valuable as that opens the door to the majors and WGCs.

  • Comment number 3.

    Fair enough: no sport not called football can financially free-float above the general economy.

  • Comment number 4.

    The money might not be quite so astronomical but it still isnt bad. As everyone says i cant see it having a negative impact, I think the season ending R2D gives the European Tour an ending that is on a fairly equal footing to the Fed Ex in America.

    I think what the European Tour could work on is the launch of the R2D. Or rather the fact that they dont bother to launch it at all, the 1st event being that dampest of Squibs, that Africa Open. At least the US Tour makes an effort to start with an attention grabbing season opener.

  • Comment number 5.

    @4 Jimmy

    You're right in that the US tour do make much more of an effort than the European tour to promote the launch of their season.
    However, a big difference is that the US tour, or the FedEx cup, ends in September, while the European tour ends at the end of November. I think it would be a case of overkill by the European tour were they to have a huge launch of their season little more than a month since the end of the previous one...?

  • Comment number 6.

    p.s. when do people really consider the start of the golf season as? It always used to be the Players Championship at Sawgrass until it got moved to May.

    Now I might say the WGC Matchplay in February - big money, big names and very exciting, especially the first two days.

  • Comment number 7.

    @6 LordVoldemort, for me its the Masters now! first major of the year is when the Buzz really gets going!

  • Comment number 8.

    @5

    I agree with you so push the start of the season back to the big event coming up in Abu Dhabi Championship which will be a really big name event. Tennis manages to have its glitzy season ender in early December and by the end of Jan they are playing their 1st major so that kind of gap is clearly viable.

    This could be done by dropping the Micky Mouse sunshine tour events that start the season from the R2D. They are about as high quality as challenge tour events only with a couple of big name South African golfers in attendence. Bearing in mind the pedigree of South African golf both past and present, i think they deserve a big event being held there anyway, cut the rubbish that dilutes it and just hold 1 or 2 big events that attracts the tours finest.

    In answer to your question in #6 I think for me the Abu Dhabi championship will signal the start of the year proper for me. Going to be a high quality field

  • Comment number 9.

    26th Jan - Abu Dhabi. Can't wait!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Alright BiloMcT! long time no....blogging i guess! weclome back Sir, i hope your here to stay!?
    Abu Dhabi should be great this year, thats when we're kicking off proper again

  • Comment number 11.

    The DWC is a far better season ending event than the Fedex Cup which is so confusing it makes Baseball look easy to understand! But the ET season is too long, drop the very poor field South African events and give a December/January break.

  • Comment number 12.

    It was the World Matchplay which kicked off the season for me last February... but looking ahead to this year I say "Abu Dhabi Do!"

    Great field and a bit of winter sunshine - what more do you want?

  • Comment number 13.

    @8 Jimmy

    I agree with what you say, especially the lack of a big tournament in SA. I'd go as far as to scrap the USPGA and put it in South Africa, given its contribution to golfing history.

    I also agree to an extent with those who get excited by the Abu Dhabi Championship - the only problem for me is that the sunshine and the desert makes it seem a bit unreal compared to the overcast, cold weather we have in the UK! (Same could be said for the WGC in truth). Come Masters week at least we have the odd day of sun.

  • Comment number 14.

    "I also agree to an extent with those who get excited by the Abu Dhabi Championship - the only problem for me is that the sunshine and the desert makes it seem a bit unreal compared to the overcast, cold weather we have in the UK! (Same could be said for the WGC in truth). Come Masters week at least we have the odd day of sun."

    They've had some fairly cold stormy weather at the WGC in the past few years, Kaymer was dressed as a cowboy with his scarf over his face at one point!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Jimmy, I agree with where you are coming from, but the Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned events provide the players further down the rankings with weaker cards to compete and earn some R2D points. If these tournaments did not exist, then many of the players successful at Tour School would not play until March. The events also provide them with an opportunity to secure a full exemption for almost two seasons should they win - invaluable for emerging players.

  • Comment number 16.

    @12

    Abu Dhabi Do - Thats shocking, I like it.

    @13

    I dont think its really possible to change the existing majors, history is too powerful a weapon. However, considering that the WGC events are co-sanctioned by all 6 of the major tours (including the sunshine tour)to have 3 of them in the States does seem a little one sided. Provided there are courses of a high enough standard as opposed to the pitch and putt they played on this week (And i'm sure there are) then i dont see why SA couldnt host a WGC, at the very least on a rotational basis.

  • Comment number 17.

    @ Jimmy , i agree it would be wrong to move Majors now, History runs deep, even in the USPGA, which is probably the worst of the 4. SA has amazing courses, i reckon a WGC should defo be there. Which one do you think they should host? p.s are you missing the old boys mickysausage, Sumo82 and Don247?

  • Comment number 18.

    i even miss james mathew.

  • Comment number 19.

    Fair enough Freddie, i see your point.Its a bit of a cliche but the cream will rise to the top. The best young talend doesnt need to secure points and money by playing against such weakened fields and anyway if you have a European tour card (no matter how its gained) you are pretty much assured of playing any regular season event that you enter anyway.

    Bilo i am missing them, I'm sat here bored out of my tree, I even miss Don, could you say someting horrible about Darren Clarke for old times sake?

    To be honest I dont have an opinion which WGC event should go to SA. I just think that as the 4 events are co sancitioned between The PGA, European, Australasian, Sunshine, Japan and Asian tours the events could be spread more equally between those regions. I'm no administrator though, i havent figured out a framework of how it'd actually work, neither am i going to.

  • Comment number 20.

    first of all, happy new year to the bloggers. right, my honest opinion with regards to this blog....average golfers are multi millionaires(remember that), the whole world is in a mess(cutbacks obvious), i would love to be in a position to play on tour and earn say half a million a year 4 just making the cut, lets not feel sorry, these golfers make millions in sponshership deals!!! Another issue raised is about the location of the majors/wgc's.....well if it isnt broke dont fix it! The only way it will ever change is if golf just has one tour ie the world tour.....but thats never going to happen. Good to see TW commit to the pro am at pebble beach as well.

  • Comment number 21.

    Yeah, I don't think that there should even be a bonus pot in the first place, it just makes the rich richer. Donald won €5 million last year on the European Tour, he didn't exactly need to win any more after that.

    My concern with the European Tour is that because of the recession and other problems, it is gradually turning into the Asian Tour as much as the European Tour. Big tournaments in the Middle East and Far East are more likely to attract the big names now than the traditional Irish and French Opens because of the prize money that can be offered. A tournament as far away as China isn't exactly very European in anything other than name is it?

    There are a number of years now where you will only see one tournament in England, the PGA at Wentworth which seems a waste considering how many members of the tour are English and how many courses there are that could hold events.

  • Comment number 22.

    davyg18...how ya doin dude. with regards to the bonus thing, i think the fed ex cup, race to dubai is the only way that golf would be intersting in what is probably the end of the season as such to most players. in other words if it was just regular events say from september, how many of the best would play??? on another note i might be wrong but im sure WGC's have been held at wentworth and also mainland europe...but i stand to be corrected. As for dubai, even though it is probably one of the richest places on the planet, they are seriously feeing the pinch as well, unfinished courses, estates , hotels etc...just outside the euro season finish, says it all

  • Comment number 23.

    Not too bad mate, do you remember 'Dave' from the PGA Tour.com comments? I thought I'd start posting more here this year.

    I understand what you are saying and come to think of it, events in Asia are needed to keep the tour going past October because the weather just isn't suitable for winter events in a lot of places in Europe.

    The World Match Play was always in Wentworth but they have stopped hosting it and now it's usually played in Spain. There aren't any WGCs in Europe at the minute, three in the US and one in Asia. They used to have the American Express Championship which was played in Ireland and Spain but it was replaced.

  • Comment number 24.

    yeh man, i remember the pga thing, i used too go on their a lot but it got quite tedious to say the least, but i still randomly go on, in all truth this bbc blog is getting a bit tired as well..keep on here m8, we lost a good few posters last year and i keep expecting a comeback, and maybe they will, but as long as we have dialogue and matters of opinion, this place will continue to prosper..peace to all...;/

  • Comment number 25.

    That's the big problem with the ET now. Far too many events outside of Europe that we can't even watch due to the times they are on! Even the R2D isn't actually convenient for watching.
    For me the ET doesn't start until the first European event, even then it clears off back to Asia & it's not really until May that we get full-time Euro golf, just as the really big events kick in & players go missing to the US & don't play in Europe.
    I just fear if we're not careful, we could end up with the situation like Formula 1, where fewer & fewer GPs are taking place in Europe, which is after all F1's home, as the chase for money takes over. For instance, is it really not time that Scandinavia was given a decent slot for an ET event? Considering the contribution of their players to the Euro tour, it seems a shame that all they get is the lousy week after the open slot.

  • Comment number 26.

    Here we go, another year where the lads can earn their millions... fair play.

    Totally agree with the feeling around that there needs to be more European tour events in Europe! Think this should mean more in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland? Maybe the government could help with this, if they aren't too busy pouring our money down the drain.

    Really fantastic news about Portrush, I can't describe the buzz around golf in Northern Ireland at the moment. Would absolutely love to see the pros try 4 days round that place when dry, sunshine and some serious wind. (Spoiler alert - expect to see some antics in a certain bunker beside the green on the first, its cruel).

    Anyone that fancies coming over should say now, will make some recommendations on where the best Guiness will be ;)

  • Comment number 27.

    I think those people who are moaning about too many ET events outside of Europe are forgetting that these Asian, South African and even Australian events have really strengthened the tour in terms of quality, finances and reputation. In any event, these tournaments are taking place all over the world because we can't play golf in europe in the winter, unlike the PGA Tour who can.

    Take the middle east swing as an example - everyone was talking earlier in the blog about looking forward to Abu Dhabi, and the dubai desert classic has been a great tournament for many years. I'd look forward to watching these far more than most of the tournament in mainland Europe.

    I do think that it would be good to see another tournament in England. The crowds are always big, and I'm sure that they could get a sponsor, even in today's world.

  • Comment number 28.

    I wonder will Luke or Lee finally get that monkey off their backs and win a major?

    Sadly I cant see it happening. They are excellent regular tournament players though and I can see them winning 3 or 4 between them in 2012.

  • Comment number 29.

    wow its been a while since i was on this.

    not gonna bother read all the posts...but it seems Don274 has changed his tune since last I was on here and what a remarkably short post for him.

    I think this year Luke Donald and Lee will both win a major...they are playing the best golf of their lives right now and I wouldnt be surprised if it was the first 2 majors that they won.

    Well deserved as well.

  • Comment number 30.

    “We are all out selling television rights globally. That has been a big part of our growth in the last ten years, but to do that together would make sense.” - Tim Finchem.

    You describe that as "...interesting comments from the man who runs the American tour", Ian. My dear, sir, you are too modest. That is such a seismic shift from Finchem that it merits its very own analytical article, at least, if not a lengthy thesis.

    Not long ago, Mr Finchem undermined and destroyed the World Tour concept supported by Greg Norman and repatriated the WGCs to the USA even quicker than was either expected or decent. The PGA Tour's characteristic pose to the rest of the world was to ignore it. And now he talks about "...other sports that are globally integrated..."? That is a huge position change, and enormous credit goes to the European Tour for the work they have done in building it up to the point where it is recognised, even in the USA, as a premier tour.

    Not that long ago, our friends across the Pond were suggesting that the world's number two tour was their very own Nationwide.

    Kudos, also, to the leading players who stuck with the European Tour, maintained its credibility and helped to build it up to its current status. Step forward Messrs Montgomerie, Clarke and Westwood, and take a well-earned bow. Honourable mentions also to Ernie Els and Vijay Singh. And let us not forget Michael Campbell, who was also pretty handy.

  • Comment number 31.

    The world matchplay is when starts the season for me, also its no surprise that the money has dropped it needs to be advertised more like the fed ex, also does anyone know if there's benefits of finishing in the top 10 in the RTD? I.e automatically qualifying for majors?

  • Comment number 32.

    I really dont know how these players are going to survive with the pay cuts.
    They will probably have to take a second job greenkeeping or caddying on the weeks they are not playing!
    Poor fellas

  • Comment number 33.

    @31 The_Scrambler

    There are only financial incentives rather than exemptions, although it's unlikely that anyone who was good enough to be in the top 10 for the year is also outside the top 50 in the World rankings, which does give exemptions to the majors and WGCs.

    The Fedex is also a bit of a nonsesne - the players don't complain too much because the money is so big, but it basically boils down to who plays well in those 4 tournaments rather than the year as a whole.

  • Comment number 34.

    james mathew - good to see you posting under your real name. Let's hope 2012 is a fresh start for some of the bloggers on here.

  • Comment number 35.

    i have turned over a new leaf and am looking for a fresh start in 2012. I promise not to mention a certain Hero of mine once in 2012

  • Comment number 36.

    The idea of a centrally administered game and a world tour sounds fantastic in principal. All the worlds best players playing against each other every week. However if you think about it i'm not entirely sure it would make too much difference.

    Due to the number of competitors there would have to be multiple events each week, which would likely take place in the same areas regions at the same time, just as they do now. And the players would pick and choose where they personally want to play, just as they do now. The majots wouldnt be changed and it would be madness to even try so the only change was that we might get the WGC's spread out a bit more (Which would be nice) and the tour would operate under a unified name.

    Powerhitter, I agree with you on the Fed Ex. It generates interest but the moneylist has long been a measure of the best player over the course of the season. To have something else running concurrently and yet producing a different winner actually makes no sense

  • Comment number 37.

    27. At 09:17 11th Jan 2012, powerhitter wrote:
    I think those people who are moaning about too many ET events outside of Europe are forgetting that these Asian, South African and even Australian events have really strengthened the tour in terms of quality, finances and reputation. In any event, these tournaments are taking place all over the world because we can't play golf in europe in the winter, unlike the PGA Tour who can.....

    I do think that it would be good to see another tournament in England. The crowds are always big, and I'm sure that they could get a sponsor, even in today's world.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Are you for real? So no more events in Europe unless they are in England? Be serious, the centre of European golf isn't England any more, so quit your moaning. I can't believe you were just so blinkered in a few short paragraphs.

  • Comment number 38.

    Does it get tiring jumping to conclusions? Powerhitter can fight his own battles but i just cant help myself from pointing out just how badly you have misinterpreted his post.

    It just says it would be nice to have more in England, Not too unfair when you consider Spain has 5 events (I think), France, Portugal, Italy and Scotland all have multiple events. On the current schedule, more often than not England has 1.

  • Comment number 39.

    powerhitter...how is it going fella. I agree to an extent with regards to the fed ex play offs, but i honestly think the top 125(i think its 125) who qualify just treat the four events like its a sort of mini tour cup. The points reset needs looking at!!!.........how is jimmy & bilo btw , good to see you two have stayed on here

  • Comment number 40.

    jimmy...spot on, you beat me to it!!

  • Comment number 41.

    @37 gbell wrote:

    Are you for real? So no more events in Europe unless they are in England? Be serious, the centre of European golf isn't England any more, so quit your moaning. I can't believe you were just so blinkered in a few short paragraphs.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Did you actually read my post? Where did I say no more events in Europe unless they are in England? You'll find that I didn't, I just said that in my view England should have more than 1 event, so I don't see how that is moaning. Golf in the UK is always well supported, far more so than many of the tournaments that I see on TV coming from mainland Europe.

    Incidentally, I'm actually Scottish so I'm not making this comment from any kind of blinkered English viewpoint.

    There used to be a blogger called mickysasuage who came out with nonsense like yours.

  • Comment number 42.

    mattefc - you're quite right, it's billed as "the playoffs" but they're not really playing for anything other than a huge pile of cash. It should be culminate in the winner of the Fedex winning the Order of Merit for the year, but as you say they need to look at the points reset to make that fairer.

    I think the problem was that Tiger won one of two of them by such a big margin that they started tinkering with the points reset to make it more exciting, but they've gone too far and the whole season now counts for very little compared to the last 4 events.

  • Comment number 43.

    powerhitter.....pardoxically, i think heath slocum just made the top 125 a couple of years ago, won the barclays and was propelled to the top in the fed ex cup.... i think that they should just put everyone on zero points at the start of the play offs, and halve the field for the second event. Basically say top 70 get points, and then leave the last 3 events with the same 70 with a structured point system given their position in the 70, so effectively the most consistant player for the 3 will win the fed ex cup.

  • Comment number 44.

    Hey fellas, Happy new year by the way.

    I cant speak for the American golfing public, perhaps they love the Fed Ex? Personally i cant get excited by it. To me, apart from giving someone a chance to win a shed load of money it seems to have a bit of an identity crisis, stuck somewhere between being a season long test of consistency, and an end of year event to keep interest up once the majors have finished.

    Frankly i dont really care which of the two it wants to be, or indeed ends up being, I just think that it should know its place. The last Ryder cup was put back to early October to accomodate the Fed-ex. Now whilst the barage of rain that the event suffered was particularly heavy, organising a golf event, in Wales, in October is asking for trouble. In future the Fed-ex should be organised to suit the Ryder Cup

  • Comment number 45.

    jimmy your sentiments are good, but im afraid ryder cup will never get priority. if the ryder cup is going to take place in britain in october, it is always going to be a farce. given that it is now europe v usa, lets put it somewhere guaranteed decent weather, canaries has decent year round weather, been a few times in december lol...either that or it needs a 4 year rotation and played in the summer, mind you..keep it away from links courses !!!

  • Comment number 46.

    Nonsense like mine? Nothing unfair has been said by myself, you just need to accept there is more to golf than the British Isles.

  • Comment number 47.

    What as happened to this blog? 40 comments on the last blog, 40 comments on this, were have all the real debaters gone?? Mickysausage, Don247, Sumo82 and BiloMct? This blog was a lot better place with those guys! Its boring without them, Mattefc & Jimmy we should start a petition for who wants them back? Or else this blog go down, and as my pappa always used to say...And now, the end is near,
    And so I face the final curtain.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ 39 mattefc...i'm good man, how are you? i am a little sad though at the loss of good bloggers like mickysausage, Sumo82, CHUMBAWUMBA and Don247. There hasnt been a good debate on here in a while.
    I respect yourself and jimmy for contributing though, lets build this blog up again to its former glory! we need good golf debates followed by outrageous banter!

  • Comment number 49.

    BiloMcT - I'm missing some of the old bloggers too. I'm having to deal with people like gbell, who seems to be unable to read or have a reasoned debate.

  • Comment number 50.

    I only come on here to read about John Hawksworths 3 Iron and Brian Davis's ball striking.

    It is a shame that the debate is a bit slow, perhaps once Carter has some proper golf to write about it'll attract a bit more comment.

    @matt - I think that after years of hosting the Ryder Cup in "The centre of European golf" the Ryder Cup is being going to be staged further afield more often and perhaps head for sunnier climes, but it'd be sad if it left these shores for good.

  • Comment number 51.

    I know that Iain hag got to blog abut something, but to me this is barely news-worthy - "some rich golfers might be a little bit less rich over the next 3 years". My heart weeps.
    I'd much prefer to see a blog about how the game of golf has moved East over the past 5 or 6 years - to the absolute detriment of golf fans in Britian - which is, lest we forget, the 'home of golf'. The demise of the British Masters still rankles with me, especially when it is effectively replaced by YET ANOTHER tournament in that hot-bed of golf China ! Similar to how football has moved away from its roots over the past 15 years, golf is in danger of doing the same. Perhaps I am being naive, but would a golfer rather have 100 people around the green - like at most UK Events, or just 6 like the majority of 'Eastern' events. Maybe the money is better, but the 'soul' of the sport suffers IMO.

  • Comment number 52.

    Jimmy

    Good to have some reasoned golf chat. We'll get this blog onto page 2 yet! It would good if Iain Carter bothered to come back on and comment.

    I think the Ryder Cup is going to move back to it's late September slot, certainly 2012 and 2014 are both September. It would make sense for it to move around Europe more and is not in France in 2018? Like everything else in the game though, the bidding and staging of it also comes down to finances.

    I think it will probably still be in the UK pretty regularly though, especially given the European Tour are headquartered here and the number of UK players involved.

  • Comment number 53.

    Breadman - you're absolutely right, and that's the very point I was making earlier which another blogger couldn't understand.

    It's all very well expanding the game and developing new markets (is that really the remit of the ET?) but where do you draw the line, when there's a willing sponsor like HSBC but no local interest. Had that WGC tournament been in the UK (maybe not November, obviously) then the crowds would have been huge.

    The Far East fills the schedule nicely in the late Autumn when the conditions are suitable but I'm not convinced that it's going to go beyond a 'far-east swing' as the schedule is too full.

  • Comment number 54.

    Thank you powerhitter. Using the analogy further with football again, there is of course talk about a European Super league - the top 20 clubs playing each other, but as ever what about the fans !? What 'the money men' in most sports fail to understand is that the fan IS the lifeblood of sport. If you gave a Man Utd fan the option of a local game at Everton or an away game at Inter Milan, I'm certain they'd take the former. Travelling to away games is in fact one of the highlights of football in my experience. In the USA, where of course there is this bizarre franchise system, there are no away fans at matches....because of the distances involved. Anyway perhaps I digress, but would Darren Clarke at 70, rather look back at his Open win in front of 140000 spectators or the winning of a slightly larger cheque at, say, the Me Win Big Masters in North Eastern China !? The thing is it isn't necessarily a case of either-or. If the R&A want to grow the game in 'Asia' then fine, but why to the detriment of the UK ? Last year I recall counting something like 6 tournaments in Portugal & Spain. The UK boasted 3 maybe 4. Now I was under the impression that Portugal & spain were financially and economically on their knees - yet they found enough support to host 6 tourneys between them ! And yet when the British Masters was cancelled in 2009, it was due to "a lack of suitable sponsor". I find that quite amazing. For me and I guess many golf fans, I would happily see a 'depleted field' at the Belfry than no golf tournament at all. Much as its a pleasure to see the likes of Luke and Lee up close (as I did at the BMW PGA - albeit after a 2.5 hour drive to get there !), I would just as happily drive 45 mins to the Belfry to watch the likes of Rock, Ferrie, Dyson etc.
    Just a thought that the R&A may want to ponder.

  • Comment number 55.

    Brian Davis is the best ball striker on tour. Most of the top Pro's say they cant believe Brian hasnt won more due to the sheer quality of his ball striking. i had the pleasure of seeing him hit some amazing iron shot a few years ago. i've seen Tiger hit balls live before but he isnt a patch on Brian Davis.

  • Comment number 56.

    Breadman - I fear that the R&A can ponder it as much as they wish, scheduling isn't really in their remit is it? (Feel free to correct me if i am wrong)

    I think that with a glaring exception we are all agreed that the Asian/SA events are a good thing provided they dont cut into the main summer tour in Europe.

    Provided that the reason that there is less golf in the UK at the moment are down to the economy, then presuming these things do go in cycles i think in years to come we may see a few more events return. I hope so, from a selfish point of view i'm very lucky that the Open is at Lytham this year, as a Lancashire lad i'll have a 4-5 hour drive to undertake to see any golf next year.

    Powerhitter - It is in France in 2018. I'm not fanatical about that decision to be honest, I'd like to see the Ryder Cup hosted in countries with a bit more RC pedigree, Perhaps Sweden, Spain again or even Germany. And whilst the uk shouldnt have a monopoly on hosting it as the country that produces the most players we should probably have a good proportion of them held here as well like you said. Though perhaps you should take off those English tinted spectacles :-)

  • Comment number 57.

    @56 Jimmy, how much of a Legend is Brian Davis!?

  • Comment number 58.

    Bilo - If he doesnt make the next Ryder Cup then i'll plait fog.

  • Comment number 59.

    i hope Robert Rock makes the next team, he's a legend.
    mattefc, what do you think of Robert Rock?

  • Comment number 60.

    Robert Rock has the best hair in golf. Unfortunately he doesn't have the best game in golf, but that's not as important in the grand scheme of things.

  • Comment number 61.

    @60 powerhitter. who do you think currently when on top of their form is the best golfer in the game?

  • Comment number 62.

    BiloMcT - not an easy question these days. For 10 years or more you'd have said Tiger without thinking twice but times have changed. In terms of ball-striking, the other pros say that McIlroy is almost in a class of his own.

    Any golfer on form can really tear a course apart these days. It's tempting to say people like Woods, Sergio (on a good putting day), Kaymer, Westwood etc but that's being unfair to the new American kids like Simpson, Bradley etc who look like they're here to stay. But I put them in the same bracket as Luke Donald ie consistently good, but not necessarily the best when everyone is on form.

    But, if I have to pick just one name: Rory McIlroy.

    I don't think any golfer other than Tiger could do what he did at the US Open, and what he did at the Masters for 3 rounds. I agree with the late, and much missed (except by Jimmy), Don247 that he hasn't won as often as he might and that his putting stroke can look slightly dodgy when the heat's on, but when he's on top form I think he'd win anything.

  • Comment number 63.

    BiloMcT, i'd agree with powerhitter 100% . McIlroy is different class. i havent witnessed Brian Davis yet, ill take your word on it!
    come back Don247, i think your needed to be the platform for blog debates!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    powerhitter...here is one for you, rorys perfomance at quail at the us open or tigers at pebble in 2000, given pebble is a links course and the play we seen from TW between 1999/2001, which is probably the best golf ever, i would have to side with tiger. I mean if you talk about best golf shots over the last 15 years, TW would fill 10 of the top 20....my favourite being the shot from the bunker in canada(i think), over 200yds, over a tree, water(lake), landed 10 feet from the hole! in my opinion rory would not even try that or have that in him? bilo...dude cmon, robert rock, brian davis.

  • Comment number 65.

    I can't see anything ever matching Tiger's performance at Pebble, rare to see as good of a performance as that in any sport. When McIlroy was -13 on the 17th hole of his second round, I thought it was happening again but although McIlroy still finished strong, he won by 8 shots, not 15. Second place was -8, not +2 etc, etc.

    I think that McIlroy has it in him mattefc, of all the top players around now, only Mickelson, Garcia and McIlroy you would fancy to take on a shot like that and succeed. He is definitely daring enough to take on the 'impossible' shot, too much so sometimes which has drawn criticism (Townsend, nearly breaking his wrist at the PGA).

  • Comment number 66.

    Dry your eyes powerhitter, I was simply expressing my opinion on your opinion - is that not allowed?

    What I am trying to get across is that the money simply isn't in the UK anymore. Golf has become more and more fuelled by money.. economies of the West are stalling and economies of the East are rising. Maybe with a half decent economic policy from a British government then we'll see more events returning to our shores. I would like to see more events in the UK but I also want to see the sport I love continue to grow, particularly from a European perspective. I have a real dislike for some aspects of the PGA Tour and want to see 'our' tour become bigger and better.

  • Comment number 67.

    davyg..love it, thats what this blog is about opinions, totally agree that what was witnessed at pebble was just unreal, i think even rors admitted that, but i may be wrong....first of all rory just blew quail away when he won, awesome golf!! he has got the world at his feet, and could potentially dominate golf like TW has done, but i have doubts over his longevity. for a start he should sack this twitter crap and stop advertising his realtionship with the majorless number 1 womens tennis player...but i still think that he wouldnt even attempt that shot, but matters of opinion, spk soon m8

  • Comment number 68.

    gbell...what is that bothers you with regards to the pga tour, just interested on your honest opinion

  • Comment number 69.

    -Think its a patriotism gone wrong, they basically refuse to have tournaments anywhere else but the USA. Okay its the tour of America however it seems to have this philosophy that because its American and only American then it is obviously better.
    -Bit of a theory/conspiracy however there is definitely an argument that the PGA tour is trying to kill the Ryder Cup, since it doesn't make any money from it. Did they introduce the Fed ex so that European hosted Ryder Cups where more likely to suffer poor whether? Think I'm right in saying that 2010 was moved back a week so Celtic Manor would be October time.
    -Decisions such as Rickie Fowler as rookie of the year last year instead of Rory, delaying the 'player of the year' (is that the right name?) award to give Americans the chance to impress instead of Luke Donald winning it.
    -Not sure whether this is entirely the fault of the tour, but week in week out it is the same style of golf course. Maybe there aren't other suitable venues but then again maybe it is the tours belief that the American way is the right way.

    Think that's my rant over, there could be more to come over the course of the year!!

  • Comment number 70.

    Also re: to those complaining about the blog not having much debate, at this stage of the season and all golf fans have been doing for the past few months, is speculating. The majors and the heart of the season are quite a bit away yet. Doesn't start hotting up until Abu Dhabi, there are events taking place but they won't inspire much discussion. Until Abu Dhabi and for a while after perhaps, most debates about golf will be:

    1. Will Rory become the new star of golf?
    2. Will Tiger continue his 'comeback' to take his rightful place among the best in the world and win more majors?
    3. Will Donald and Westwood win a major?

 

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