Gary Murphy column: New alliance will benefit both European and PGA Tours

Jonathan Caldwell tees off on the 10th tee during day two of the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage in 2019 (Image: Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

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European Tour chief Keith Pelley has moved swiftly to deny that a new “strategic alliance” with the PGA Tour is a first
tentative step towards a merger.

I hope he’s right and while the apparent vagueness surrounding last week’s landmark agreement is curious, I firmly believe that the
new arrangement can benefit both tours.

We’re looking at a new era of collaboration on scheduling, while the PGA Tour has also acquired a minority stake in the European Tour’s media production company.

The big question is how the new alliance impacts on the main body of the tour.

I really hope they ringfence the bigger events and keep €1million prize pots for the rest.

Paul McGinley, who now sits on the European Tour board, believes the new pact will modernise global golf and is a prudent move by the powers-that-be on this continent.

The European Tour has been massively affected by Covid-19 and the reality is current purses are running at levels last seen approximately 15 years ago.

The fact the two European Tour events this week have a combined purse of approximately half of that on offer at the Mayakoba Classic tells you all you need to know.

The swollen prize funds for regular tournaments here will continue to be a thing of the past in the short term, so hopefully a cash injection from the PGA Tour helps steady the ship.

Shane Lowry
(Image: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Finances have been hit by a lack of corporate spend yet the tour has been forced to fund a schedule to fulfil its TV contract obligations, which can’t have been easy.

Until such times we have a vaccine and normal travel is possible with spectators streaming through the gates, the business model won’t equate to improved purses any time soon.

It is old news that the Ryder Cup is a cash cow for the tour and losing that income for another 12 months is also a massive body blow.

Players have been forced to take pay cuts of up to 50% while the European Tour has also seen huge staff lay-offs with almost 100 people let go.

Hopefully this new alliance with the PGA Tour helps keep the show on the road.

I think overall it will be a good thing and I agree with Paul McGinley that streamlining the two main tours and massaging the schedule can benefit the sport.

The PGA Tour is trying to grow its brand globally, so it’s definitely a good fit for them.

On the plus side, it also kills the chance for a premier league which is great.

In uncertain times, the best tour in the world and most cash-rich organisation has come to Europe and that can only be a positive thing.

Given the financial climate, European Tour chiefs had no choice but do what they could to preserve playing opportunities for their members.

It won’t be to everyone’s liking but, for making tough decisions in tough times, Pelley and the European Tour deserve some credit.

Buckle up for a golfing feast

A view of a ball
(Image: ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry)


Buckle yourself in for a feast of golf with three events hitting our screens this weekend.

The PGA Tour will feature the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico, while the European Tour has two tournaments scheduled in Dubai and South Africa.

The Dubai Championship tees off at Jumeirah Golf Estates today, with Sun City playing host to the South African Open from tomorrow.

It is strange to see two European Tour events staged on the same week at the tail end of the season.

I think the last time that happened was more than a decade ago but with no cards on the line it is a chance for players to get some game time.

It’s also great for golf fans that Sky Sports are covering all three events.

And with the different time zones, it means we can watch all the action from the UAE and South Africa before tuning into Mexico later.

The Fire course will host this week’s Dubai Championship with the Earth course staging next week’s season finale at the DP World Tour Championship at the same venue.

A huge purse of $8m is on offer next week, a remarkable prize pot given how many star names might decide to give it a miss.

The South African Open is one of the oldest open championships in the world and the Sunshine Tour has certainly played its part in trying to facilitate the European Tour.

It deserves a lot of credit and I honestly think three weeks in a row should be a minimum period of stay for the European Tour down there.

Betting slip

GOLF IN DUBAI Championship

Tom Lewis – 40/1 EW Should feel comfortable back on European Tour.

Mike Lorenzo-Vera – 40/1 EW Can’t help thinking win is close for Frenchman.

SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN

Matthias Schwab – 20/1 EW T13 last week and a steady tee to green game will suit here.

Joost Luiten – 25/1 EW Dutchman a danger when he’s chasing a big week.

MAYAKOBA CLASSIC

Sebastian Munoz – 40/1 EW In solid form and has ability to upset the stars on show in Mexico.

Emiliano Grillo 55/1 EW Just needs a good week on the greens.

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