Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose grab lucrative appearance fees at Hong Kong Open

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Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose grab lucrative appearance fees at Hong Kong Open

Euro Tour

Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose grab lucrative appearance fees at Hong Kong Open

It’s “fill your wheelbarrow” time on the European Tour, when Europe’s stars pick up appearance fees to help them fill the Christmas stockings of those they love.

That’s probably the reason Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose are in this week’s $2 million UBS Hong Kong Open. They’re rumored to be on $1.5 million each. Rumored because figures are never publicized, but that was the word at last week’s DP World Tour Championship. (I’ll happily set the record straight if anyone from UBS, Rose or Garcia’s camp supplies accurate figures.)

Great for sponsors UBS to grab two of Europe’s biggest stars. However, perhaps not good for Europe’s lucrative Rolex Series, eight events worth a minimum $7 million. 

For the record, Rose opened in Hong Kong with a 2-under-par 68, the same score as Tommy Fleetwood, the man who pipped him for the 2017 European No. 1 title. They’re three shots behind India’ S.S.P. Chowrasia, who shot an opening 5-under-par 65. Garcia returned a 1-under 69.

Garcia plays in next week’s Australian PGA Championship for probably a similar appearance fee. Three million bucks for two tournaments before hitting a shot is good money if you can get it. 

Garcia didn’t play the two Rolex Series events leading up to last week’s DP World event. Indeed, he only played two all year. He also played the Italian Open. Rose played four of the eight. 

You can see why other sponsors who’ve bought into the Rolex Series might be second guessing themselves. Why stump $7 million if the stars aren’t going to play? Take the Nedbank Golf challenge in South Africa the week before the DP World. It had a prize fund of $7.5 million yet only featured three Europeans in the world top 20 – Fleetwood, Alex Noren and Tyrrell Hatton. 

Someone at Nedbank has surely realized they might have been better to offer a $3 million purse and pay appearance fees to a couple of big stars, as UBS has done. As HSBC does every year in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

You can’t blame Garcia and Rose for cashing in, but it might not be great news for the European Tour trying to attract new sponsors to join the Rolex series.

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