Thursday, January 20, 2011

PGA Tour vs European Tour...Golf Smackdown?

The European Tour continues to grow in popularity and this week is no exception as six of the top ten golfers in the official world rankings embrace the WGC HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship as the competitive "tournament of choice".

Mickelson used to enjoy playing his season-opener at the Bob Hope Classic but is it just the stress of a five-day event that has Phil fleeing or is it the allure of $1 million that is tempting Lefty to visit Abu Dhabi?

In order to entice more PGA Tour golfers to play across the pond, spiffs are an integral part of the deal for notables like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, who will reportedly receive $3 million to show up in Dubai next month.

The diverse environment also interests Mickelson. "It has been great for me and my family to experience a lot of different cultures and learn from them."

U.S. golfers who add European Tour events to their schedule are being given a royal welcome by their hosts and appearance fees. The grueling PGA Tour schedule with "rigid rules", as mentioned by world's number-one golfer Lee Westwood, also requires play in fifteen events as opposed to thirteen...and the PGA Tour does not offer appearance fees. So, why fly the friendly skies?

Westwood, who gave up his PGA Tour membership, has snubbed in protest various events like the FedEx Cup and most recently, the Players Cup. Other Euro Tour golfers like Rory McIlroy have joined Westwood in his quest to remain Euro-centric and possibly to enhance the importance of their Tour.

In the picture below, newly named 2012 Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal is at the helm of the Abu Dhabi Ocean racing entry with possible picks. Is that Phil Mickelson readying to play for "Team Europe"? Quick Davis, offer an appearance fee...

Abu Dhabi with Phil Mickelson  

I mentioned a few weeks ago that it would be a good idea for the PGA and Euro Tour to mediate in order to give opportunities for the golfers to play either venue.

Westwood's manager, Chubby Chandler pointed out, "There are too many people in power thinking only about their own interests rather than what's good for the game. It does my head in to think the world No 1 in his sport can't play in a tournament he wants to play in, and which the sponsor wants him to play in."

"The Players is a big PGA Tour event – but that's all it is."

To put it in Rory McIlroy's words, "The PGA Tour won’t miss me, because no one player is bigger than the tour.”

I think a Smackdown is on the horizon. Does 'The Rock' play golf?

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