European Tour in 'really strong place' after DP World deal - Stephen Gallacher
Stephen Gallacher reckons the European Tour is in a “really strong place” as it bids to stave off Greg Norman’s quest to shake up golf with Saudi Arabian backing.
Speaking ahead of his 600th appearance on the circuit in this week’s Aviv Dubai Championship, the 47-year-old Scot welcomed Tuesday’s announcement about the European Tour’s name changing to the DP World Tour from next season in a mega-money deal.
Consisting of 47 events, the 2022 schedule will boast a record total prize fund of more than $200 million, with a new minimum prize fund of $2m for all tournaments solely sanctioned by the DP World Tour.
The announcement sent a strong message to former world No 1 Norman as he starts a new project as CEO of LIV Golf Investments with the aim of pumping $200m into the Asian Tour over the next 10 years.
“I think we are in a strong place right now,” insisted four-time tour winner Gallacher, who sits on the European Tour’s tournament committee and joined fellow players Tommy Fleetwood, Adrian Meronk and Dean Burmester at the announcement.
“To have the Strategic Alliance with the PGA Tour and now have the backing of DP World and all our other main sponsors - Rolex, BMW and all the other contributors - I think we are in a really strong place at the moment.
“To hear (PGA Tour commissioner) Jay Monahan’s words yesterday really cemented the fact how much we are working together and why can’t we all work together at some stage?
“Just now there’s a wee bit of politics involved, but we shouldn’t detract from the positive news we had yesterday. It’s been great news for us and whatever happens outwith we can’t do anything about it, anyway, and I’m not really focusing on that.”
The change of name will take place in the European Tour’s 50th anniversary, with the circuit’s chief executive, Keith Pelley, saying it had been a “misnomer” due to so many events on the schedule now being staged outside Europe.
“Listen, it used to be the Volvo Tour when I first came out here, so it’s not as if it’s something new. It happens a lot in different sports,” added Gallacher, who is just the 14th player to reach 600 appearances but fourth Scot after Sam Torrance, Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie.
“Take football, for example. The Emirates Stadium, Arsenal’s stadium, used to be Highbury. It happens and I think the brand for what we do really suits and makes sense. DP World have been a great supporter of the tour for years, so it’s great to have them as the title sponsor and for what they do around the world it just fits us perfectly.”
Gallacher’s career has already taken the Bathgate boy to far-flung countries like Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and China, with a new destination set to be added to the list next year.
“When I saw the schedule, I was buzzing to go to Japan,” he said of a tournament taking place there in April. “My daughter's always wanted to go, so me, my wife and daughter are all going to go out next year.
“That's something I've never had the opportunity to do in my 600 tournaments. It just shows even at my age I'm still enthusiastic about going to certain places I've never been.”
Gallacher is also excited for the next generation of European players as the Challenge Tour benefits as well from the deal, starting next season with a new John Jacobs Bursary Award in honour of the main tour’s founding father.
“The fully-sanctioned DP World tournaments are $2m minimum, what a carrot at the end of the stick for the 20 guys that can get promoted every year to come on and play for that kind of money,” he said.
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