Which leaves us with a strange situation of having The Open Championship, returning to Royal Portrush after 68 years, as the last major of the season. In living memory the USPGA has always been the final major of the season, so everything feels a little out of synch. Then, if you missed it, the PGA Championship at Wentworth has been moved from it’s May Bank Holiday position to September.
So why has the season gone so higgledy piggledy? Well it’s funny you should ask and the answer might not be what you would think, if you had any thoughts on the matter in the first place. Would you believe that it is due to the NFL! The PGA Tour has moved it’s schedule up so that it will finish in August, just before the College and Professional Football players take to the field.
This leaves the schedule open in September for bigger European events to be played. Really meaning that the European Tour has had to move it’s schedule around to compensate for the NFL and the USPGA Tour. Now why would it move any of it’s events?
Well this has been a knock on effect for the past few years, due to the inclusion of the FedEx Championships and their culmination in the Tour Championship in Atlanta. Every player who could qualify for these events will pull out all of the stops to be included in the field. They are chasing a huge amount of money, which never forget is the reason why they are professional golfers.
So all of this wealth in prize funds has left the European Tour somewhat on the back foot trying to re-establish its position as a true competitor in the world of Tour golf. And it rallied, under the leadership of its newly appointed Head man Keith Pelley, who’s mantra is to keep Europe’s talent playing in Europe. He made a large step in managing to do this by securing his own version of the FedEx Cup by signing Rolex to become the key sponsor for the European Tour.
There are now eight events on the schedule which have a massive prize fund, seven million Euros minimum with the final two events of the season carrying seven and a half and eight million prize funds. The likes of which has never been seen in Europe before.
That would be enough you would think, that would attract the best in Europe to play wouldn’t it? But then look at the reaction or decisions made by Rose and Casey last year where they decided or declined to play in the European Tours showcase finale.
A scenario which would be unimaginable regarding the States. Scarily Rose turned down his spot due to weapons testing for his new club manufacturer.
The worrying signal that may be being sent is that the USPGA Tour has satisfied the Player’s financial concerns, satiated their appetites leaving the players to fulfil other obligations such as family, sponsors or anything else.
That shows the gradient of the hill Mr Pelley has to climb, if he is going to turn heads, he needs to beat the US’s offering, which seems to be a Herculean task to anybody from the outside.
What we are going to have to do is watch the way circumstances set themselves out now, with the FedEx run finishing in late August and the climax to the European Tour’s season ending in November perhaps the playing elite of Europe will travel across from their Florida residences to Europe, sorry to Turkey, South Africa and Dubai.
We will have to wait and see.