Refreshing to hear 'lucky' used to describe $2m prize funds and not just once

Edoardo Molinari shares a laugh with Rasmus Hojgaard during last year's Made in HimmerLand at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort in Aalborg, Denmark. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.Edoardo Molinari shares a laugh with Rasmus Hojgaard during last year's Made in HimmerLand at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort in Aalborg, Denmark. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
Edoardo Molinari shares a laugh with Rasmus Hojgaard during last year's Made in HimmerLand at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort in Aalborg, Denmark. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
It’s fair to say that golf has lacked financial perspective lately as the arrival of LIV Golf delivered huge prize pots on the set up circuit and, as a direct response to that, inflated funds being offered in designated events on the PGA Tour.

“So, I think what's happened in the last year or so, we've got sidetracked into thinking that 20 million or 100 million is just normal and that's what we should be playing for and that's what we're worth; and that, if we are playing for two or three million on this tour, that is not enough,” observed major winner Shane Lowry earlier this year in offering his opinion on the money situation.

By ‘this tour’, he was referring to the DP World Tour, where $2 million has been on offer in 12 of the 24 events staged so far this season outside of the majors, the latest of which was the BMW International Open in Munich.

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Speaking to this correspondent in Bavaria, Scott Jamieson used the word “lucky” as he offered his view on the money currently on offer on his home circuit and it cropped up again in a conversation later in the week at Golfclub München Eichenried with Edoardo Molinari.

“I think we are playing for a lot of money, probably more than what we deserve,” said the Italian, one of the brightest individuals in the game. “The field here is probably the same as when I came out ten to 15 years ago and probably worse and we are playing for double the money. I think we have to feel very lucky.”

Much has been both written and said about the likes of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson no longer being DP World Tour members and fields being weakened as a result of several successful European players no longer being in fields.

There’s no denying that’s the case, of course, but, on the evidence of recent events in Belgium, the Netherlands and a couple in Germany, there is little sign of the circuit being engulfed by doom and gloom. Far from it, in fact.

“I think it is a great place to play golf,” said Molinari, who, as he closes in on his 400th appearance and has three wins to his name, two of which came in Scotland in the space of a few months in 2010, is certainly entitled to offer an opinion on the matter.

“You have some great young kids coming up and I think we are in a very good place, to be honest. We have some great events and some of the events we have some of the guys on the PGA Tour would like to come and play.

“It’s not like some people make it look and it’s a bit sad, to be honest, that some guys play here for 20 years and, all of a sudden, think this is poor, this is bad and this is awful. I think this is just getting better. Golf moves on and if someone doesn’t want to play here, then fine and we’ll find someone else.”

Those keen to knock the DP World Tour and, in particular, its Strategic Alliance with the PGA Tour often claim that cards on offer on the US circuit to the top ten on the Race to Dubai at the end of this season is akin to selling the jerseys in football. Molinari, though, doesn’t see it that way.

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“When I first came out, I was top 20 in the world and it was difficult to play on the PGA Tour,” recalled the 2005 US Amateur champion. “I would play on invites and through being in the top 50, but it’s not the same. At the end of the day, everyone is aiming to go play on the PGA Tour. That’s always been the end goal and always will be.”

As things stand, the likes of Edinburgh-based Frenchman Victor Perez, Pole Adrian Meronk and German Yannik Paul, all contenders for the Ryder Cup in Rome in September, are likely to be playing on the PGA Tour next season, but, from what he’s seen of the new wave of European stars, Molinari is confident they will not forget where they were given the chance to become global players.

“If I was a young star, I’d always stay loyal and come back to play a few more than some people did in the past and I feel these players will, too,” said the Ryder Cup vice captain and DP World Tour tournament committee member.

“They are all super kids and they completely understand everything . I am very good friends with all of them. I work with some of them and are friends with others. I know that if Rasmus, Nicolai [the Hojgaard twins] and Bob [MacIntyre] get PGA Tour cards in the future - and they will - they will still come and play in events on this circuit without appearance money or anything.”

It was my first visit to the BMW International Open and what a terrific tournament, as, by all accounts, were the Soudal Open, KLM Open, Porsche European Open and Scandinavian Mixed without necessarily boasting established stars since the circuit hit mainland Europe for the first time this season.

If last year’s event is anything to go by, this week’s Betfred British Masters at The Belfry should keep the ball rolling and, whilst there will be lots of noise surrounding LIV Golf events at both Valderrama and Centurion Club over the next fortnight, please don’t be hoodwinked into thinking that love has been lost for the DP World Tour because recent evidence when it comes to the fans who actually attend tournament shows otherwise.



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