Tait: Euro Tour lacks common sense over Luiten injury
Clearly the European Tour hasn’t discovered the value of medical advice in the last 17 years. Otherwise Joost Luiten would not have had to do a Robert Allenby in this week’s BMW Masters in Shanghai.
Luiten turned up in China, hit one tee shot and withdrew. The Dutchman was forced to do so because the European Tour still can’t exercise common sense in certain situations.
New rules this year state players must compete in two of the first three events in the Final Series to be eligible for the DP World Tour Championship, the Euro Tour’s season-ender for the top 60 on the money list, or Race to Dubai.
Luiten is enjoying his best season on the European Tour. The 27-year-old has two victories, the Lyoness Open and KLM Open. He is 11th on the Euro money list and certain to make the Dubai field.
However, Luiten is having shoulders problems. Instead of allowing him to skip the tournament on medical grounds, the European Tour forced him to turn up in China. He hit a tee shot about 120 yards off the first tee, shook hands with playing companion Luke Donald and headed back to Holland for a scan.
By hitting that one shot, Luiten is deemed to have participated in the tournament and therefore in line to play in Dubai.
Aside from common sense, the biggest casualty of this madness was South Africa’s Justin Walters. He was first reserve. The former N.C. State player is 67th on the Race to Dubai. Needless to say he is keen to move up at least another seven places.
The same stupidity took place 17 years ago during the Volvo Masters at Valderrama, the final event of the 1996 European season. The Euro Tour had a bonus system for the top 15 players on the money list. The provision was they had to play in the Volvo Masters to be eligible for the Volvo Bonus pool.
Allenby was third on the Order of Merit and in line to collect a £60,000 bonus. Unfortunately, he was involved in a car crash before the tournament and fractured his sternum. Yet the Tour told him if he didn’t tee it up at Valderrama, he couldn’t collect his bonus.
So we all trooped out to the first tee that year to watch Allenby tap his tee shot down the first fairway and then retire. He duly collected his bonus.
The Allenby situation was ludicrous in 1996 and the Luiten case equally so. Of course, there’s an easy solution. Make players who claim injury to undergo an independent medical examination.
It’s not rocket science, just plain common sense.