European Tour Encouraging Its Players To Compete In Native Tournaments
The European Tour in an effort to "appeal to sponsors" has approved an "'encouragement incentive' for players to commit to at least one native event," according to Alex Miceli of GOLF WEEK. If players do not compete in a native event, the "mandatory minimum number of tournaments for membership jumps from 13 to 15." The move comes "just one year after the tour, fighting an outflow of talent to the U.S., raised the tournament minimum from 12 to 13." European Tour COO Keith Waters called it a “commercial reality” to attract sponsors by retaining top players. Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who is on the 15-man tournament committee that "OK’d the incentive, likely will swap the Memorial Tournament next spring for the Scandinavian Masters." Sweden's Jonas Blixt: "I know they're trying to protect the tour. Hopefully, they'll play it anyway, but it's kind of unfair to the guys to have a tournament in their home country and the guys that don't have one because it doesn't affect them at all." British golfer Lee Westwood: "I didn't see the point in doing it, to be honest. It was making a rule just for the sake of it." Miceli noted for the "numerous South Africans" on both the European and PGA Tour, the "stakes will be doubled." Because South Africa "hosts seven tournaments, they will be asked to play at least two." South African golfer Charl Schwartzel: "I don't get why they want to force a guy to play somewhere. Guys are going to give up their memberships" (GOLFWEEK.com, 9/2).
CONVERSION RATE: In Scotland, Martin Dempster reported a "record number of Americans have entered this season's European Tour Qualifying School." The 86 U.S. players entered is "double last year's total." The decision by more Americans to "turn their attention to Europe in an attempt to get a foot on the ladder is also likely to have been influenced by changes to the PGA Tour Qualifying School." It no longer "offers instant promotion to the money-spinning main circuit, with the developmental Web.com Tour now being the primary path to get a PGA Tour card" (THE SCOTSMAN, 9/4).