Finchem addresses Euro Tour changes
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
LA JOLLA, Calif. – PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem addressed the media Tuesday. It’s likely his comments weren’t just heard in this media tent in the parking lot of the Torrey Pines Hilton. His remarks likely will be heard across the Atlantic, as well.
Of the European Tour, Finchem said, “I ... feel strongly that the European Tour needs to be a strong tour. It’s a very good thing for golf globally.”
He’s right about that. The emergence of Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy as rising stars has been entertaining to watch. They attract more eyes to the European Tour, thereby bringing more viewers to the PGA Tour, since that’s where the world’s best events are played most weeks. People lose sight of that point this time of year, when Abu Dhabi overshadows the Bob Hope Classic.
The fact that the McIlroys and Westwoods of the world choose to spend much of their time in Europe may not be preferable, but it’s also not a death sentence for the PGA Tour. What followed were comments from Finchem that will raise some eyebrows at European Tour headquarters.
“They have struggled more than we have with this downturn,” Finchem said. “They’ve had to morph their schedule into the Middle East and now Asia to find markets to support their Tour. I applaud that.”
Finchem makes it sound as if the European Tour only ventured into emerging markets because of domestic troubles. Sure, the downturn inspired the European Tour to look for more opportunities in Asia, but it was visiting the region well before “collateralized debt obligation” became a well-known term.
The first Dubai Desert Classic was first held in 1989. The first visit to East Asia came in the early-90s. It’s no secret that the European Tour has been well ahead of the PGA Tour in making inroads in Asia.
Finchem later said, “Candidly, it’s probably more important on the European Tour that some of those players play over there than it is for us that they play here.”
I’d like to be a fly on the wall when European Tour commissioner George O’Grady reads that comment. It’s true, but also likely to be perceived as a dig. It’s doubtful that quote will help inter-contintental relations.
Finchem also addressed the “designated events” policy that was designed to help the Tour’s weaker events.
The policy was made voluntarily this year, which leaves some skeptical that all players will comply and play events that need help.
On “designated events” Finchem said, “We will get virtually 100 percent of the players doing that. I’m pleased with the reaction.” Unfortunately, virtually 100 percent does not equal 100 percent. That means there are some players who do not seem willing to follow designated events. It’s most likely the top players, the ones that people really want to see, that won’t voluntarily follow the “designated events” policy. This is further proof the PGA Tour dropped the ball by not making the policy mandatory.