Andalucia Masters Golf: Players worried after fifth Tour event is lost
THE loss of a fifth event from the European Tour schedule this year has led to prominent players expressing concern about the current health of the circuit.
George O’Grady, the Tour’s chief executive, announced yesterday that the Andalucia Masters, due to be held at Valderrama in the middle of next month, has been cancelled.
It is a victim of Spain’s financial crisis as, following a change of government in the Andalucia region, the new authorities are keen to cut costs.
Breaking the news, which he described as “extremely disappointing”, O’Grady said: “This isn’t Valderrama’s problem. Valderrama has been tremendously helpful and supportive in the political arena.
“This is really [down to] a change of leadership in the area and how they do things.”
Won last year by Sergio Garcia, the Andalucia Masters joins the Majorca Open, Czech Open, Madrid Masters and the Castellon Masters on the list of events that have fallen off the Tour schedule this year. Even the Scottish Open was believed to have been under threat until the Tour struck a deal with Aberdeen Asset Management and the
Coupled with factors such as the BMW PGA Championship being the only event in England on the calendar at the moment, the situation is beginning to cause concern for the players.
“We have good friends around the world and we are able to build a schedule that still works, but we need more tournaments in Europe,” Thomas Bjorn, chairman of the Tour Players’ Committee, admitted to Global Golf Post.
“I know as well as anyone that these are extremely tough times, but how is it that other sports are surviving and all we are doing is losing things?
“If it goes on like this, we have got to start asking: ‘What is happening to the European Tour?’”
Englishman Paul Casey added: “What we need is a five-year plan and a ten-year plan, the kind of things companies would usually be able to deliver.”
Keith Waters, the Tour’s International Director of Operations, is charged with the task of delivering a year-round schedule.
He said: “We are losing tournaments, but that is hardly a new phenomenon. We’ve lost ten in the last three years and it’s only because we have been replacing them that the players are not as aware of that figure as they might be otherwise.
“We are doing all we can to maintain a strong base in Europe and to make it grow but, in spite of our best efforts, the European swing is getting shorter and we can’t bank on things getting
better any time soon.
“The trouble is that all the international companies are telling us that they have budgets for the emerging markets, but not for Europe.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
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