Euro Tour's sponsor woes intensify

Ian Poulter of Europe celebrates after making birdie on the 16th green during an afternoon four-ball matches at the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.

Sponsors of European Tour events must have hung their heads in despair at the news that the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup and Vivendi Seve Trophy will now count toward the minimum number of 13 events for membership on the European Tour from next year.

That’s the last thing sponsors wanted to hear.

European Tour sponsors have a hard-enough time attracting star players without this development. Take the Portugal Masters. Only six of the world's top 50 players teed it up in Portugal, with No. 31 Francesco Molinari the highest-ranked player in the field.

It’s the same at many other tournaments. There was a time when events such as the French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese opens would attract big names. Not now. These tournaments struggle to attract star players.

With the four majors and WGC events counting toward European Tour status, it means the elite need only to pick another six events to fulfill membership. They don’t even have to set foot on European soil to do so. They can opt for events in Asia or the Middle East that pay appearance fees.

PGA Tour-based Europeans may think it’s a good idea to include the Ryder Cup among their 13 events, but sponsors won’t. It’s only going to make it harder every other year to attract star players. Which begs the question a potential tournament sponsor posed to me recently: “Why would I want to fund a tournament when I’m going to get the B team?”

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