Finchem dismisses Tour interest in Euro Tour
Published reports in the United Kingdom that the PGA Tour is in talks to buy the European Tour led to a flurry of denials by both parties.
Keith Waters, the European Tour's chief operating officer, rebutted the story, telling BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter that the "notion that the PGA Tour is somehow bidding to buy the European Tour is incorrect."
Later, the PGA Tour issued a statement in which commissioner Tim Finchem echoed Waters, labeling the reports “inaccurate.”
The Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, citing unnamed sources, reported that the PGA Tour was mulling a takeover of the European circuit as concerns grow over the lack of playing opportunities.
A struggling European economy had led the European Tour to stretch beyond its continental boundaries and establish events in Asia, the Middle East and beyond. Still, the European Tour is on holiday for the third straight week, and that has made the rank-and-file restless. But any player dissension extends even deeper. Both U.K. newspaper reports quote Paul Casey, a member of the European Tour’s tournament player committee.
“There are so many good things about the European Tour, and it can be such an unbelievable product, given the places we go to and the players we have,” said Casey, of England. “But we are so far from maximizing what we have, and we need to freshen things up. It needs some new energy."
Count Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, a member and winner on both Tours this year, as one player who wouldn’t be in favor of the two rival tours as one.
“If (the) PGA Tour bought (the) European Tour things like (the) Ryder Cup rivalry would be gone,” he wrote in a tweet. “Yes our top players play mostly PGA but maintain Euro identity.”
The concept of one world tour has been broached several times in the past. The World Golf Championships were formed in 1999 as an attempt to bring the best players in the world together more frequently. The PGA Tour also has shown a willingness to expand its control of the professional golf calendar. Last year, the PGA Tour purchased the Canadian Tour, which it re-branded as PGA Tour Canada, and launched PGA Tour Latinoamerica. Earlier this week, the Tour announced that it had hired a senior executive to increase its efforts in China.
McDowell summed up his feelings about the PGA Tour assuming control of the European Tour in a second tweet: “Not needed. Most top 50 players play world tour anyway.”
But the published reports compared the earnings this season of the No. 100 player on the European Tour and PGA Tour money lists as an example of the disparity in prize money. On the European Tour, England's Richard Bland has banked about $265,000, nearly three times less than Martin Kaymer, a German, who has cashed checks totaling $785,000 on the PGA Tour.