George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, says that the golf world is on the verge of seeing an alliance of the European, Asian Tour, Australasian Tour, Japanese Tour and the Sunshine Tour in South Africa The goal is to create a viable alternative to the dominance of the PGA Tour.
Asian Tour officials apparently are denying the rumor, but I think it make sense from an international point of view. Certainly if you read the golf coverage in newspapers around the world, there is a growing resentment against what they perceive as US domination. For example, a writer in a news article in The Herald editorializes:
The US are currently monopolising golf. They have three of the four major championships and all three of the world golf championships that were intended to be spread globally – and they have refused to discuss establishing one in Europe.
There is no denying that the US dominated golf for decades. Talent-wise, the Europeans just weren’t able to keep up. But in recent years, that hasn’t been the case. Overwhelming Euro victories in the Ryder Cup matches, as well as the increasing prominence of international players in the various rankings speak to increasing strength. The Europeans still aren’t winning “Majors” in buckets, but that’s to come.
In fact, the whole “Major” thing seems to be a real bone of contention in Europe, as three of the four are in the US. And now the PGA Tour, with its FedEx Cup, seems determined to position the Players as the fifth.
More than one international golf writer has wondered aloud why a fifth Major shouldn’t be an international event, staged at a non-US location. And I have to agree. I’d love to see a major played in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand or in Europe (just not in China. I’m an old cold warrior and can’t get over the whole Chi-Com thing).
There are many weekends where the cast of players at the European Tour events are better, and more interesting than that at the PGA Tour event. The difference really is that they can’t offer live coverage in the US in the traditional sports slots on weekend afternoons.
But if Tiger and Phil were playing, you can bet that the networks would be falling over themselves to offer coverage anyway. They manage to do it with the Olympics.
So here’s one US vote for a strengthened International Tour. I think it would be good for golf.