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Cover Your Ears - European Tour Players to Wear Microphones

By: | Fri 29 May 2020 | Comments

In a revolutionary move, European Tour officials plan to ask players to wear microphones when the action restarts at the British Masters at Close House. Although we have seen Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Matthew Wolff and Rory McIlroy doing precisely that during recent exhibition matches, this would be something entirely different - and it remains to be seen whether they will all be comfortable with the prospect.

It would mean that viewers would hear conversations with caddies and fellow players, but it would also inevitably lead to broadcasters having to apologise for bad language. However, European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley is a fan of the proposal and believes that it could become "the way of life" at future events.

"Covid-19 allows you permission to try things a little bit differently," Pelley told BBC Sport. "I think you have to be as creative as you possibly can when you are playing behind closed doors. It really comes down to how open you are, how creative you are and how your players want to embrace change. This is the time for us to do some things completely differently.

"People said when we started doing in-round interviews that it would never work," Pelley added. "Now they are a key component of our broadcast. To get an insight into the mind of a professional golfer during the actual moment of deciding whether he is going to hit a five or six iron is fantastic.”

Francesco Molinari

What he fails to add is that not all players agree to on-course interviews and those who do know they are happening, are aware they are live and, as a result, are always on their best behaviour.

He believes that players to agree to the move, adding that because nobody is going to lose their European Tour cards at the end of this truncated season it will reduce the pressure on them.

"Once you've actually had a wireless mic on in competition and it hasn't affected you in any such way - technology has come so far that it is really, really small and won't disturb your swing - then it just becomes commonplace and a way of life."

Microphones are expected to be used in television featured groups during a swing of six UK events that mark the resumption of the tour schedule. The sequence starts with the British Masters at Close House near Newcastle on July 22. The English Open will be played at Forest of Arden the following week and the English Championship at Hanbury Manor will start on 6 August. There will then be back to back events at Celtic Manor, the home of the 2010 Ryder Cup. Concluding the run of British events will be a new UK Championship to be held at another former Ryder Cup venue, the Belfry near Sutton Coldfield, between 27-30 August.

The tournaments depend on a lifting of government quarantine measures affecting travellers coming into the UK. There is confidence this will not prove a barrier to the tour, which has seen no play since early March.

"In terms of the UK we are very encouraged and very optimistic that the hotels will be operational by the time we play at the end of July and that we will be able to get some dispensation for our players in terms of quarantine," Pelley added. "And that is absolutely critical for us."

Keith Pelley

The Scottish Open at Renaissance and the PGA Championship at Wentworth are due to be held in October in an overall schedule of up to 24 events.

Pelley confirmed that the Race to Dubai will now conclude in December and still carry a bonus pool for the most successful players, but admitted prize funds will be hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The six British events this summer will each carry purses of around one million euros, which is only a third of the sum offered at the British Masters last year.

"For this year the prize funds have been reduced, they are directly attributed to revenue," Pelley said. "When revenue is in decline, prize funds have to decline. That's what we are dealing with right now."

The European Tour is funding the tournaments as well as spending more than £2m on a Covid-19 testing programme put in place for players, caddies and officials at the first six tournaments.

Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography

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