Westwood: Euro Tour must coordinate with PGA Tour
VIRGINIA WATER, England -- Adapt or die. That seems to be Lee Westwood’s message to the European Tour.
The Englishman says the European Tour has to consult its top players and work with the PGA Tour to stay viable. He says there aren’t enough clusters of tournaments to attract Europe’s top stars to stay in Europe.
Westwood joined the PGA Tour last year and now resides in the United States. He’s making a rare return to Europe, and even rarer return to England. This week’s BMW PGA Championship is the only European Tour event in England this year. Ten years ago there were five.
There are more tournaments outside Europe this year than there are in Europe, 26 versus 20. South Africa has six tournaments alone.
“It’s nice to come home and play on home turf, and support English and British golf,” Westwood said. “We’ve got so many good English players at the moment. It’s a shame that the English and British public only get to see us once a year outside of The Open.”
Westwood will miss defending next week’s Nordea Masters in Sweden because he has opted to play in the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament.
“I can’t even defend in Sweden next week because it’s one of the biggest events on the PGA Tour, the Memorial. Having sort of set myself out to go over there and play there full time, I feel that I have to go and play in events like that.”
Westwood wants to see European Tour chief executive George O’Grady consult more with Europe’s top players when he sets the schedule.
“There’s got to be more dialogue between the top players or the players that play elsewhere and the European Tour. There’s no point in putting big tournaments on when the top players can’t attend.
“You don’t sell your tournaments on a person that’s 110th on the money list. You sell your tournament to sponsors on being able to attract top-50 players. So you’ve got to discuss the scheduling with those players. It makes sense.”
This week sees all 11 of last year’s victorious European Ryder Cup team in action on the European Tour. It would have been all 12 but Peter Hanson pulled out at the last minute. Europe probably won’t have all 12 in action at the same time until the Open Championship, and later this year in the new Final Series format that marks the end of the Race to Dubai.
Westwood wants to see Europe do more to attract and keep its star players in Europe. He says the key is more big events in a row and working with the PGA Tour.
“They have to work with the PGA Tour. We have a good Middle Eastern stretch at the start of the year, an opportunity to build around this (tournament). You’ve got the Open Championship in July and an opportunity to build around that. Then at the end of the year we have a run of big tournaments in Asia when the FedEx Cup events are over.
“Rather than the need to fight the PGA Tour you need to…. work with them and not just try to go head to head.”
Over to you George O’Grady.