The European Tour is mulling over new membership requirements in order to hang on to its best players.
Currently, the tour demands that golfers play a minimum of 13 tournaments a year in order to retain membership, but this is proving a troublesome requirement for some of the big stars.
New chief executive Keith Pelley is said to be considering two new proposals. One would see the number of events required for membership reduced to 11, while another would see it reduced to only five – though that would not include the four majors and four World Golf Championships events.
Asked for his opinion on the second option, Graeme McDowell said: “I'm kind of one of the guys that (it would affect, like) the Luke Donalds, the Ian Poulters.
“Just out of the top 50, guys like me that are not guaranteed to be in the major championships and WGCs. Thirteen will be – I'm going to have a little bit of a problem because – yes, the European Tour is something I'm very loyal to, but I've got to make a living. I don't want to be at the end of next year with no card anywhere, you know.”
European Tour membership is important to Europe's top performers, not least of which because it is a requirement for playing in the Ryder Cup.
“It's not only Ryder Cup, but it's a big factor, for sure,” said Ian Poulter. “We have a number of great tournaments on this side of the pond – think of French Open, for instance. This is going to be its 100th year. It's pretty significant. The Hong Kong Open, that's another old one. There's lots of tournaments that we play which for Europeans, they are pretty significant tournaments.”
The PGA Tour is a far more lucrative prospect for the world's best players, however, and the Europeans struggle with the dual commitment.
“The PGA Tour is where we all want to make our living, big-picture, because you can't argue with the finances; you can't argue with them,” McDowell added.
“The European Tour, there is something special about it for us, as players who have grown up on this. It's very hard to turn your back on it. Although it sounds like guys are, it's not out of the question for guys to maybe turn their back on it if a gun is held to their head.”
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