Can a new World Golf Tour ever get off the ground?
The future of the Australian Open, which has struggled in recent years to attract high quality fields, could be much brighter if a recent report from the AAP comes to fruition.
A British-based outfit, the World Golf Group, is hoping to launch a new worldwide golf tour that will be known as the Premier Golf League.
Phil Mickelson (Credit: PGA Tour)
The AAP has revealed that the newly-formed PGL would feature a group of top stars from each of the world’s largest golf tours, who will play 18 tournaments a year with a minimum prize pool of US$10 million.
Amongst the revelations was news that organisers of one of our very own tournaments, the Australian Open, have been approached to be part of the tour alongside events such as the Alfred Dunhill Championship, the Dubai Desert Classic and the Singapore Open.
“We’re aware of what is being proposed with this new league and that the Australian Open has been included in those plans. However, it is too early in the process to make any further comment,” said Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt to the AAP.
The heads of the two largest Tours were similarly non-committal.
“We don’t comment on the business of other tours, real or hypothetical,” said the PGA Tour.
“I think they’ve been trying to move forward for eight years, but I wouldn’t comment on the business of the PGA Tour or certainly one that is not real,” commented European Tour chief Keith Pelley.
The Australian Open’s inclusion would be a big win for the storied tournament, which has been struggling to attract big-name stars recently with the changes in Tour schedules particularly on the PGA Tour.
If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because former World No.1 Greg Norman tried to get something similar of the ground along with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch way back in the mid-90′s. Predictably the PGA Tour quickly squashed the idea and everyone moved on.
If the PGL is to get off the ground it is going to need a lot of stars quite literally to align. No-one is going to watch the tournaments if the big names aren’t involved and the sponsors won’t be ponying up $10 million per tournament if the stars aren’t playing.
So far there has been tentative interest from the likes of Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy with Mickelson saying he was “intrigued” by the idea.
However, Mickelson is on the backend of his career and has nothing to lose unlike McIlroy who needs to work with the PGA and European Tours, who need him as much as he needs them.