PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem expects some form of a “world tour” in golf in the future, even if he’s not around when it takes shape.
Europe already has one, with sanctioned tournaments on five continents. The PGA Tour is going to Malaysia later this month, returns to Shanghai for a World Golf Championship and has Japan on its wish list.
The trick is to get everyone on the same page.
“I think that at some point in time, men’s professional golf will become integrated globally,” Finchem said. “Now, what form that takes, whether it’s a total integration, whether it’s a FIFA-type, I don’t know. One question is how the competition is organized. Another question is how the organizational structure behind it is organized. The first one is the key thing.”
One reason Finchem believes a world tour is inevitable is marketing and sponsorship, which includes the players. Phil Mickelson is sponsored by Barclays, which promotes tournaments in Singapore, Scotland and New York. He is playing all of them this year.
The U.S. tour also has such multinational title sponsors as Deutsche Bank and BMW (both playoff events), Accenture and Zurich.
“I think it’s a matter of time,” Finchem said. “Golf generally is a splintered sport, multi-organizational at every level. But there’s movement. The last 15 years there’s been a lot of movement. I would see that continuing to develop toward integration.”
Even though the Ryder Cup completed a rugged stretch of golf – some players competed seven out of nine weeks, all big events – that doesn’t mean the season is over. The Fall Series still has four tournaments left, although the focus shifts overseas.
Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott, K.J. Choi and Ryan Palmer are among those planning to play the tour’s event in Malaysia, which is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour. Then it’s off to Shanghai for the HSBC Champions, Singapore and onward to Dubai for Europe, with Tiger Woods heading Down Under again to defend his title in the Australian Masters.
Integration can get tricky, for sure. But it starts with cooperation.
The European Tour was the first outside tour to set up golf in Asia, and one year had more tournaments in China than in Scotland. Now comes the American tour looking to create tournaments and opportunities for its members.
Finchem says he and European tour chief George O’Grady have been “working together.”
“We’re not going to play a ton of tournaments over there, so it shouldn’t be a problem. George knows that,” Finchem said. “We’re talking to him constantly about what our plan would be. My guess is it will result in us doing even more together.”