PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem on Tuesday denied that the US circuit had made a bid to acquire golf’s European Tour, but said US tour officials continue to pursue collaborative efforts with other tours.
Two British newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, reported the PGA Tour was in preliminary discussions to take over the Wentworth-based European Tour and that Finchem had already had discussions with his European Tour counterpart George O’Grady.
“Certain news reports have indicated that the PGA Tour has made an offer to acquire the European Tour. Those reports are inaccurate,” Finchem said in a statement.
“However, as I have stated publicly on several occasions, the integration of professional golf can create additional value for our 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,” he added.
“More recently, all the major golf bodies around the world worked together to bring golf back to the Olympic Games,” he said.
Finchem said talks among the various tours within the federation would continue “as we explore additional collaborative efforts for the presentation of our game.”
“To the extent any of those efforts prove feasible, additional information will be provided at that time,” he said.
The PGA Tour, which organizes men’s pro-golf in the US and North America, has already purchased the flagging Canadian Tour and renamed it the PGA Tour of Canada.
It also has a strong foothold in Latin America and Asia, where the European Tour first moved successfully in the late 1990s, with a yearly US$5 million event in Malaysia.
Just recently the PGA Tour appointed an experienced executive to a newly created role to help the Tour “increase its efforts in China.”
The PGA European Tour was founded in 1972 and organizes men’s pro-golf tours in Europe, but is under increasing pressure to find European-based sponsors given the current economic climate.
In Spain, for example, where there were seven tournaments on the 2011 Race to Dubai schedule, there is only one this season.
Greater prize money is also on offer in the US, attracting top players from Europe. Of the 40 or so events this season, only three carry a prize purse of less than US$5 million.
However, in Europe there are 44 events, but the prize purse is 2 million euros (US$2.7 million) or less in exactly half of them.
In addition, while there have been 72 players on the PGA Tour earning in excess of US$1 million this season already, just eight players on the Race to Dubai have banked more than 1 million euros.
Added to that, there will be five events on US soil this month, compared with just two in Europe.
England’s Paul Casey, a member of the Tournament Players Committee, is pushing hard for an established corporate executive to take charge of the European Tour that could fight off any interest from the PGA Tour.
“I want to help and I want to inject my ideas,” Casey said recently. “There are so many good things about the European Tour and it can be such an unbelievable product, given the places we go to and the players we have, but we are so far from maximizing what we have and we need to freshen things up,” he said.