Money in golf: Spare us sob stories about DP World Tour players being overlooked
Here we go again. Some more cash is flashed in golf through the PGA Tour securing a $3 billion investment deal and some people within golf seem to suddenly lose perspective as they jump up and down and make all sorts of claims about what DP World Tour players should be expecting from it through a partnership with the US circuit. Yes, of course, the DP World Tour members have to be seen to be deriving some benefit from that Strategic Alliance, but, even before we look at what’s stirred up this latest storm, there’s surely examples of that being the case already.
For starters, through the first five years of the 13-year DP World Tour/PGA Tour partnership, an agreement is in place to underpin DP World Tour prize funds that will increase every year, with the 2024 schedule boasting a record overall pot of $148.5 million, which excludes the majors. “That commitment is significant,” noted Englishman Eddie Pepperell in a chat with Global Golf Post’s Matt Cooper during last week’s Bahrain Championship.
As are new title sponsors now being associated with DP World Tour events. Korean car giant Genesis, for example, is the brand now backing the Scottish Open while FedEx, a PGA Tour sponsor since 1986 and umbrella sponsor of the circuit’s FedEx Cup since 2007, has just been announced as the new title sponsor of the Open de France, the oldest national Open in continental Europe. With all due respect, it’s unlikely that either of those partnerships would have materialised without pretty powerful forces being created through that Strategic Alliance.
Yes, I know that some people don’t like the fact that, due to it being part of both the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup, the field for the Genesis Scottish Open is now split evenly between the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour, though the upside of that, of course, has been that, for the past two years, it has boasted the strongest field of the season on the DP World Tour and will do so once again when the Rolex Series event is held back at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian in July.
I’m also well aware that there’s some discontent about a new category introduced this season that is providing spots for players finishing outside the top 125 in last year’s FedEx Cup getting into DP World Tour events this season ahead of both Challenge Tour graduates and Qualifying School card winners.
It would be good if a few more DP World Tour players, though, would put their head above the parapet and acknowledge that they actually appreciate the opportunities currently being provided for them because the prize funds should certainly be deemed as acceptable, even if they are often dwarfed by the sums now being played for on both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf League. And that, of course, is what has led to some DP World Tours – and I’ve listened to one of them, not a Scot, I hasten to add – losing that perspective, as acknowledged last year by Shane Lowry.
“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 (DP World Tour), that is not enough,” observed the Irishman as he delivered some remarks that have stuck in my head and a few others, too. “As a tour, could this tour be better? Yeah, obviously, we could all be better in anything that we do. But, with a steady growth over the next number of years, I do think this tour will keep improving.”
There’s no reason why not but, due to the new noise that has been created by the investment from the Strategic Sports Group meaning that PGA Tours will collectively access over $1.5 billion in equity from PGA Tour Enterprises, I reckon some of the younger DP World Tour players and those making claims about this and that should listen to what Edoardo Molinari, one of the brightest individuals in the game, had to say when speaking to this correspondent about prize pots on the circuit during a chat at last year’s BMW International Open in Munich. “I think we are playing for a lot of money, probably more than what we deserve,” said the Italian. “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.”
It really is time for more people to feel that way because, as events in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Bahrain to get it started in 2024 have shown, the product is good, which, in fairness, is partly down to some of those youngsters writing a new chapter in the DP World Tour’s history at same time as the likes of Ludvig Aberg, Matthieu Pavon, Nicolai Hojgaard and Thomas Detry underline the strength of European golf on the PGA Tour.
The big question now, of course, following that whopping investment from the Strategic Sports Group is where exactly is the PIF going to fit in as talks continue between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund because I can’t see Yasir Al Rumuayyan, LIV Golf’s chief executive, being too happy about being pushed to the side, as seems to have happened. And, judging by Rory McIlroy’s seismic shift stance, I’m not totally convinced that Framework Agreement between the three parties is now as close to being turned into something concrete as some people have been suggesting over the past few weeks. Bloody golf, eh?
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