PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said U.K. media reports that the world’s richest golf circuit made an offer to buy its European counterpart were inaccurate.
While the world’s top golfers gathered to vie for $16.75 million in prize money at the Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship over the past two weeks in the U.S., the European Tour schedule is blank between July 28 and Aug. 22. Finchem said that, while the PGA Tour hasn’t sought to take over the European Tour, collaboration between series may benefit players, sponsors and fans.
“Such integration has been ongoing since 1994, with the founding of the International Federation of PGA Tours, and has led to the establishment of the World Golf Championships in 1999 as well as the World Cup as a Federation-sanctioned event,” Finchem said in a statement e-mailed by the PGA Tour. “More recently, all the major golf bodies around the world worked together to bring golf back to the Olympic Games.”
The Telegraph and Mail cited Paul Casey, who has played on the PGA and European tours and is a member of the latter’s tournament players’ committee, as saying that the European Tour has failed to fulfill its potential.
“We are so far from maximizing what we have and we need to freshen things up,” Casey was quoted as saying. “This is the time for change as it’s a great opportunity we’re missing.”
Henrik Stenson leads the European Tour prize money list with 2.12 million euros ($2.81 million) this year. The Swede won almost half that amount in three U.S. appearances -- the Bridgestone Invitational, PGA Championship and U.S. Open. By contrast, Tiger Woods tops the PGA Tour money list with $7.69 million in prize money.
While the European Tour has struggled to increase prize purses, the PGA Tour has been expanding. It took operational control of the Canadian Tour on Nov. 1 and in March the 15-event, nine-nation PGA Tour Latinoamerica began its second season with the Mexico Open.
The PGA Tour announced two days ago that it hired Greg Gilligan as vice president and managing director of the Tour’s affiliate in China as part of an effort “to support the continued growth of golf” in the world’s most populous nation.
“Conversations among the tours within the federation will continue as we explore additional collaborative efforts for the presentation of our game,” Finchem said in his statement.
A further $5.3 million in prize money is available this week at the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship, which begins tomorrow at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. It’s the final opportunity to qualify for the four-event FedExCup playoff series, which pays the top player a $10 million bonus.
The European Tour’s equivalent to the FedExCup, the Race to Dubai, had its bonus pool plunge by half last year to 2.4 million pounds ($3.71 million). The bonus pool for this year is $3.75 million.
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