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SBD Global/November 21, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Top Golfers Are Bailing On The European Tour In Favor Of U.S. Fortunes

In the week of the lucrative and high-profile finish to its season at the Dubai World Championship, "a wider debate over the European Tour's status rumbles on," according to Ewan Murray of the London GUARDIAN. The desire of European players "to seek fortunes in the U.S. is nothing new but now seems more apparent, and potentially more damaging." Belgian golfer Nicolas Colsaerts "has become the latest golfer to take up membership on the PGA Tour." The scenario "has prompted one of the world's top players, Luke Donald, to speak of a 'talent drain' on the European Tour." Such sentiment is "understandable." Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose "are among those who have now set up home in the U.S." European Tour CEO George O'Grady said, "We have got to be concerned. Lee Westwood could go home to Worksop [in England] from Dubai [in UAE] and conceivably not hit a golf shot for goodness knows how long because of the weather. Lee explained to me that he wants to win a major; he can live in Florida with his own practice range within walking distance, which he can use whenever he wants because of the climate." O'Grady added, "I wouldn't say the phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting to sponsor tournaments." The European Tour "has been damaged by the loss of tournaments, notably in Spain, because of economic circumstances." With that in mind, the addition of an event in Turkey this year "proved a timely boost, while this weekend in Dubai, O'Grady will formally announce a fresh, end-of-season European Tour format starting next year, which will partly mirror the FedEx Cup set-up in the U.S." One of golf's leading agents Chubby Chandler said, "You ... have to give the good players opportunities to play for proper money in Europe. I would go to the players and ask them to nominate a week where they will all play. You can go to sponsors with a commitment from 19 of the top 25 Europeans all to play in one week. It needs some creativity and thought." Chandler added, "Companies right now aren't stupid, they know what they can get for £2M-3M ($3.2M-4.8M). For £3M you could have a top European Tour event or the shirt sponsorship of teams five, six, and seven in the Premier League. What's going to get you more coverage?" (GUARDIAN, 11/20).
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