12 JUNE, 2022 - SHANK MEDIA, BY MATT HOOPER: WHEN KEITH PELLEY BECAME THE CEO OF THE EUROPEAN TOUR IN 2016 HE PROMISED TO INNOVATE AND ELEVATE, AND OVER THE INTERVENING 6 YEARS HE HAS DONE THAT TO A CERTAIN DEGREE. THE EUROPEAN TOUR HAS RUN 6-HOLE MATCH PLAY WITH THE GOLFSIXES AND WORLD SUPER 6, IT HAS RUN THE SHOTCLOCK MASTERS IN AUSTRIA AND HAS BY FAR THE MOST ENGAGING SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT OF ANY MAJOR TOUR IN WORLD GOLF. IN 2017 THE TOUR LAUNCHED THE ROLEX SERIES, INCREASING PRIZE FUNDS ACROSS UP TO 8 EVENTS AT THEIR PEAK, AND AT THE END OF 2019 THE TOUR WAS IN A GREAT PLACE TO BE A TRUE FORCE IN WORLD GOLF.
THEN THE COVID19 PANDEMIC HIT THE WORLD IN EARLY 2020, AND THE VERY FUTURE OF THE TOUR WAS AT RISK.
AFTER A 3-MONTH HIATUS THE TOUR RELAUNCHED WITH A SERIES OF SMALL PURSE, SHORT-TERM EVENTS PLAYED AT UK VENUES INCLUDING THE FAIRMONT ST ANDREWS, BUT MANY EVENTS WERE CANCELLED, AND SOME HAVE NOT RETURNED. THEN IN NOVEMBER 2020 THE EUROPEAN TOUR ANNOUNCED A STRATEGIC ALLIANCE WITH THE PGA Tour, WITH THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT MADE BY THE TOURS:
The European Tour and PGA TOUR today heralded a significant new era for global golf with an historic announcement of a Strategic Alliance.
The landmark agreement will see golf’s two major Tours explore all facets of collaboration, working together on strategic commercial opportunities including collaborating on global media rights in certain territories.
This will come through part of the agreement which sees the PGA TOUR acquire a minority investment stake in European Tour Productions (ETP), the European Tour’s Media Production company, which produces and distributes content internationally.
The Tours will also work in partnership on a number of other areas including global scheduling, prize funds and playing opportunities for the respective memberships. Further details of these areas will be announced in due course.
One element of the partnership which can be confirmed today is the fact that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan will take a seat on the Board of the European Tour.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “This partnership is an historic moment for the game of golf and is a fantastic opportunity for both the European Tour and the PGA TOUR to explore ways to come together at the very pinnacle of our sport and work in unison for the benefit of the men’s professional game.
“Today’s announcement is the formalisation of a closer working relationship between the Tours in recent years. It was one which was crystalised earlier this year when both Jay and I were part of the working group containing representatives of the four Majors and the LPGA, a group which helped shape the remainder of the golfing calendar for 2020 during unprecedented times.
“We shared the challenges of working through a year neither of us could have ever imagined and we found definite synergies in many areas of our respective Tours. That gave us the impetus to move forward together and arrive at this momentous announcement we are making today.”
Jay Monahan, Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, said, “We are thrilled to announce this further strengthening of our partnership with the European Tour, and we look forward to working together for the benefit of the men’s professional game and for golf fans around the world.” (SOURCE: EUROPEANTOUR.COM)
THE DETAILS OF THE STRATEGIC ALLIANCE WERE PUBLISHED IN AUGUST 2021, WITH THE PGA Tour AND European Tour CO-SANCTIONING THE GENESIS SCOTTISH OPEN IN 2022, AS WELL AS THE BARRACUDA AND BARBASOL CHAMPIONSHIPS IN THE US.
THEN IN NOVEMBER 2021 THE TOUR UNVEILED ITS NEW TITLE PARTNER, DP WORLD, WITH THE TOUR BECOMING KNOWN AS THE DP WORLD TOUR FROM THE 2022 SEASON. THE SPONSORSHIP, RUMOURED TO BE $2BILLION, WAS SAID TO ENABLE THE European Tour TO INCREASE PRIZE FUNDS ACROSS THE TOUR'S SCHEDULE AND ELEVATE THE PLAYER AND FAN EXPERIENCE AT EVERY EVENT. BUT DESPITE THIS MASSIVE INJECTION OF CASH, AND CO-SANCTIONING OF THE SCOTTISH OPEN, THE DP WORLD TOUR IS STILL NOWHERE NEAR WHERE IT SHOULD BE WITHIN THE GOLFING LANDSCAPE.
SO FAR IN THE 2022 DP WORLD TOUR SEASON ONLY 2 EVENTS ON THE SCHEDULE HAVE AWARDED OWGR POINTS ABOVE 40 TO THE WINNER - Abu Dhabi HSBC AND SLYNC.IO DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC - AND THEY ARE BY FAR THE STANDOUT REGULAR EVENTS, IN FACT NO OTHER EVENT HAS EVEN AWARDED 30 POINTS TO THE WINNER, WITH THE STRENGTH OF FIELD FOR THE NEXT BEST FIELD ON THE DP WORLD TOUR BEING THE MYGOLFLIFE OPEN PRESENTED BY PECANWOOD, AWARDING JUST 23 POINTS TO THE WINNER.
THE FACT IS THE EUROPEAN TOUR IS NOW, LARGELY, AN IRRELEVANCE.
BUT IT FACES BEING WIPED COMPLETELY OFF THE MAP FOLLOWING THE EMERGENCE OF LIV GOLF.
THE SAUDI-BACKED SERIES LAUNCHED LAST WEEKEND AT CENTURION CLUB, AND WHILST THE DP WORLD TOUR TODAY ISSUED A STRONG STATEMENT SAYING Keith Pelley WAS NOT ON SITE AT THE EVENT, I CANNOT HELP THINK HE WATCHED FROM AFAR AND SAW MUCH OF WHAT HE HAS BEEN TRYING TO DO WITH THE European Tour IN THE EVENT PLAYED NEAR LONDON. INNOVATION WAS AT THE HEART OF LIV GOLF, AS WELL AS VAST PRIZE FUNDS, AND THE STAR-STUDDED FIELD FEATURED SEVERAL EUROPEAN RYDER CUP TEAM HEROES AND DP WORLD TOUR MEMBERS AT VARIOUS STAGES OF THEIR CAREERS, YOUNG AND OLD.
SO FAR, ALL OF THE DEBATE AROUND LIV GOLF HAS BEEN ABOUT HOW IT IS TRYING TO RIVAL THE PGA Tour, BUT IN FACT THE MORE DAMAGING ASPECT OF THIS COULD BE THE FURTHER RELEGATION OF THE European Tour IN STATURE. THE PGA Tour VERY QUICKLY RESPONDED TO 17 OF ITS MEMBERS/PAST MEMBERS PLAYING AT CENTURION BY SUSPENDING THEM, BUT AS YET THE DP WORLD TOUR HAS NOT MADE A STATEMENT REGARDING LIV GOLF. MANY BELIEVE THERE WILL BE CLOSER INTEGRATION BETWEEN THE TOUR AND THE PGA Tour, BUT PERHAPS Keith Pelley AND THE BOARD SEE A FUTURE ALIGNMENT WITH LIV GOLF AS THE BETTER WAY FORWARD FOR ITS MEMBERS, TOURNAMENTS AND GOLF ACROSS EUROPE AND THE REST OF THE WORLD.
IT IS A MOMENT WHICH KEITH PELLEY MUST SEIZE, AND HE MAY HAVE TO MAKE A CONTROVERSIAL, UNCOMFORTABLE BUT NECESSARY DECISION IN THE NEAR FUTURE - END THE STRATEGIC ALLIANCE WITH THE PGA TOUR, AND WORK WITH LIV GOLF. MAKE NO MISTAKE, THE INNOVATION AND GLOBAL OUTLOOK SHOWN BY LIV IS FAR MORE CLOSELY ALIGNED WITH THE EUROPEAN TOUR THAN THE INSULAR, AMERICAN IDEA OF THE WORLD HELD BY THE PGA TOUR.
THE EUROPEAN TOUR HAS PLAYED ALL OVER THE WORLD, AND IN THE Middle East IN PARTICULAR, SINCE 1989, AND STAGED THE FIRST 3 EDITIONS OF THE SAUDI INTERNATIONAL, SO ALIGNMENT WITH A SAUDI-BACKED GROUP IS NOT SOMETHING WHICH THE TOUR HASN'T DONE IN THE PAST. LIV GOLF COULD BRING THE EUROPEAN TOUR, ASIAN TOUR, SUNSHINE TOUR AND PGA Tour OF AUSTRALASIA TOGETHER, AND THE EUROPEAN TOUR GROUP COULD HELP RESHAPE THE LIV GOLF PLATFORM TO BETTER SUIT GOLF AS WE KNOW AND LOVE IT.
I APPLAUD LIV GOLF FOR INCLUDING A TEAM ELEMENT TO THEIR SERIES, AND I DEFINITELY THINK IT ADDS TO GOLF, BUT THE TEAM NAMES ARE TRULY HORRENDOUS, AND THEY ARE, FAKE. TEAMS IN F1, NFL, FOOTBALL, CRICKET AND BASEBALL ARE ORGANISATIONS, WITH A HEADQUARTERS OR STADIUM AND COMMUNITY PROGRAMS, THE TEAMS IN LIV GOLF ARE, TO ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES, MAKE BELIEVE. TEAM GOLF IS GREAT, BUT ITS GREAT BECAUSE IT IS NATION V NATION, OR CONTINENT V CONTINENT. PLAYERS ARE EMOTIONAL BECAUSE THEY ARE REPRESENTING THEIR NATION, AND FANS ARE INTO IT BECAUSE THEY ARE CHEERING FOR THEIR NATION, AND THAT IS THE CASE FROM AMATEUR THROUGH TO PROFESSIONAL GOLF.
THE DP WORLD TOUR, SUNSHINE TOUR, ASIAN TOUR AND PGA Tour OF AUSTRALASIA HAVE CO-SANCTIONED EVENTS FOR THE BETTER PART OF 27 YEARS AND HAVE WORKED TOGETHER AT VARIOUS POINTS IN THAT TIME AS MEMBER TOURS OF THE SEEMINGLY IRRELEVANT INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF PGA TOURS. THE FOUR TOURS COULD WORK WITH LIV GOLF TO CREATE A TRULY MEANINGFUL, INNOVATIVE PLATFORM FOR THE WORLD'S BEST GOLFERS TO PLAY AROUND THE WORLD, AND GIVING ALL LIV GOLF MEMBERS ACCESS TO THEIR EVENTS, HELPING TO ELEVATE ALL THE EVENTS ACROSS THE WORLD OUTSIDE OF THE AMERICAS.
LIV GOLF AND THE FOUR TOURS COULD CREATE WORLD SERIES GOLF, OR WSG, IN ESSENCE THE NEXT STAGE OF LIV GOLF.
THE WSG COULD STILL FEATURE THE 14-EVENT SCHEDULE WHICH Greg Norman HAS SOLD TO THE PLAYERS HE HAS RECRUITED SO FAR, BUT WITH A SLIGHTLY BIGGER FIELD AND A DIFFERENT MAKEUP OF EVENTS ACROSS THE WORLD. 5 EVENTS ARE CURRENTLY SCHEDULED IN 2022 TO BE PLAYED IN THE United States, AND ANOTHER 9 COULD BE SCHEDULED FOR DESTINATIONS AROUND THE WORLD, this is how the new wsg (backed by liv golf and sanctioned by the European Tour, sunshine tour, asian tour and PGA Tour of Australasia) could look:
WILL THIS HAPPEN? ONLY TIME WILL TELL. BUT THE ESTABLISHMENT CANNOT CARRY ON BASHING THOSE WHO JOIN LIV Golf AND STICKING UP FOR THE STATUS QUO, BECAUSE IF THE STATUS QUO WAS SO GOOD THEY WOULD NOT BE SIGNING UP FOR A TOUR WHICH HAS NO HISTORY AND NO CERTAIN FUTURE.