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View From The Fairway - European Tour Prepares For New Era

By: | Mon 15 Nov 2021 | Comments

Ahead of the DP World Tour Championship, Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his latest View From The Fairway!

HISTORICALLY, there has always been a huge disparity in prize money between the PGA and European Tours. To give you an idea, in the 2020-21 PGA Tour season, a staggering total of 124 players earned at least $1m. Ahead of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, just 34 players had earned 1m euros in prize money. And spare a thought for Dutchman Joel Stalter - in 26 appearances he had earned just 88,000 euros. When you consider that he has had to employ a caddie and pay for air travel and hotels, you can see that a year on the European Tour actually cost him. But all of a sudden golf is awash with cash. The European Tour, which reaches its climax in Dubai this week, has been rebranded and will be known as the DP World Tour in 2021-22. And it all gets under way the following week in South Africa with the Joburg Open. Total prize money has soared to more than $200m when you include the majors, with a host of tournaments boasting mega prize money. The current season saw golfers playing for $70m. Excluding the majors, that figure will double in 2021-22, with every tournament boasting a prize fund of at least $2m. It is mind boggling. And this at a time when the Saudis are also about to pour tens of millions of dollars into the game too. During the pandemic, the merchants of doom predicted that sponsors would walk away from professional golf in their droves but it hasn’t happened. Win a run-of-the-mill event on the PGA Tour and a golfer can expect to pocket at least $1.2m. Next season’s DP World Tour will boast at least 47 tournaments and take in 27 countries, including Japan, the UAE, South Africa, and the 2022 DP World Tour Championship will offer total prize money of $10m - remember that this is a tournament with an elite field of 50. 

STEPHEN GALLACHER achieved a rare milestone in Dubai last week when he played in his 600th event on the European Tour, vowing to get to 700 before he tries his hand on the seniors tour. It is a remarkable feat that has only been achieved by 12 other golfers, including fellow Scots Paul Lawrie, Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance. He has won four times and represented Europe at the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014. But he says that the pinnacle of his career came when he won the Hero Indian Open in 2019 with his son, Jack, on the bag. Gallacher won the Walker Cup in 1995 as Great Britain & Ireland saw off a United States team that included a certain Tiger Woods. Both men would turn professional the following year. Tiger had won eight of his 15 majors before the Scot enjoyed his first tournament win at the 2004 Dunhill Links Championship. It hasn't always been an easy journey. In 2009, the auto-immune disease Sarcoidosis forced Gallacher to take a break from golf. "I was tired all the time, had swollen hands and was coughing non-stop," he explained. "It was a tough year but once I recovered I really kicked on and I had the target of the 2014 Ryder Cup to aim for. My only chance to play it in Scotland. I wrote down a list of all the things I needed to do and pretty much every box was ticked. I was sixth in a WGC, top 20 in a few majors, got to the Masters. That period was the most consistent I've been.” I have had the pleasure of meeting Gallacher - he is one of the good guys.

FOLLOWING our article on climate change and the impact of coastal erosion on golf courses around the British Isles, it has emerged that the 8th hole on the Jubilee Course at St Andrews is at risk of falling into the sea. A report on BBC's The One Show said: “Research has shown that in the next 20 years there may be a risk that some parts of these courses will disappear completely. The reason is coastal erosion. At St Andrews, it’s the 8th hole on the Jubilee Course that’s the worry.” Ranald Strachan, St Andrews’ environmental development officer,  said: “If you look at the landscape we’re in, it’s quite low lying, it’s quite near the sea.” St Andrews has been working on sand dune rebuilding to try and counteract the effects of rising sea levels," he added.

I CANNOT help but question the European Tour’s decision to give a special exemption to Sergio Garcia to be part of the field for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. The former Masters champion failed to fulfil the minimum requirement of four European Tour events - outside of the majors and World Golf Championship - this season, seeing him emoved from the Race to Dubai rankings. But a European Tour statement said that "continued challenges" caused by the coronavirus pandemic were behind the decision to offer him a place at Jumeriah Golf Estates, with CEO Keith Pelley granting him a place in addition to the qualified field.

IT COMES as no huge surprise to learn that Rory McIlroy has decided to end his working relationship with swing coach Pete Cowen. Although he won the Wells Fargo Championship shortly after turning to Cowen, McIlroy had a torrid time of it in 2021, failing to properly contend in any of the majors. He won the recent CJ Cup, but only after announcing that he was going back to trusting the things that had taken him to four major victories. McIlroy is one of the most naturally gifted golfers on the planet but is a player who has always suffered peaks and troughs. He says that his light-bulb moment came at the Ryder Cup, where he suffered three defeats and the ignominy of being dropped for a session for the first time in his career. It will be fascinating to follow his progress in the months that lie ahead.

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Tags: PGA Tour european tour


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