Bunker Mentality

Let golf’s top stars play where they want

Bunker Mentality

Last week Martin Kaymer came out and said that he had no intention of following Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood to the US PGA Tour and said that he finds their decision to rejoin the circuit "strange".

Westwood and McIlroy have been bouncing between both the US Tour and the European Tour for the last few years, while Kaymer has stayed loyal to Europe.

Currently players have to play a minimum of 15 events to keep their US PGA Tour card and 13 events to keep a European card although the WGC events and the four Grand Slams are co-sanctioned events so count on both tours.

This makes it possible, but hard work, for a player to play on both Tours but to do so means playing a hell of a lot of golf.

Also, it means that other Tours away from the big two find it much harder to attract big names to their tournaments because the top players have such limited space on their calendars.

It is understandable why the US PGA and the European Tours put in these limits, of course they want the best at their events, but really why shouldn't the top players just be allowed to play where they want?

If you have proven yourself to be one of the top say 25 players in the world, then you have surely earned the right to decide where, when and have often you want to play?

If you don't play or win enough then you will naturally drop down the rankings and it is up to you to pick your tour and try and win back your privileged status.

Allowing the best to go where they choose would a much fairer global playing field for tournament organisers who then have to work to attract the top players as opposed to just expecting them to turn up because they are lucky enough to be part of a certain tour.

Sponsors are already voicing their displeasure at the way the big two tours are monopolising and controlling the top talent in the sport.

The president of Swiss watchmaker Omega, who are one of golf's biggest sponsors, has said as much as he criticised the decision to play the World Cup in China at the end of the season purely because there was no other place to fit it in the packed schedule.

"The big problem with golf at present is a calendar issue and we've told all the Tours that they have to stop being so greedy," said Stephen Urquhart.

"There are too many tournaments and they are adding tournaments all the time.

"And to treat Asia as the stopgap as they do with this week's World Cup is not right. It's wrong and the Tours are not going to win if they keep treating Asia as a stopgap. They need to show Asia more respect.

"Why can't there be a big event like the World Cup here in Asia in June. What's the difference in taking a flight from London to Beijing or London to Los Angeles?

"This is the mentality of the Tours and it is not right."

At the end of the day money and talent rules and the Tours have to be careful not to bite the hand that feeds them and expect too much from the players.

The big names and sponsors hold the real power, and as Kaymer himself pointed out, if you are a big enough name a Tour card is largely irrelevant.

"With the amount of invitations I receive I could play a good many weeks in America, for sure," he noted.


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