Harrington sees mergers as solution for European Tour but not with PGA Tour

By Brian Keogh  

Padraig Harrington. Photo by Golffile

Pádraig Harrington does not believe in a world tour or a potential merger of the European Tour and the PGA Tour in the US.

Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup captain would prefer to see the European Tour achieve economies of scale with the Ladies European Tour and other circuits around the world, but he cannot see the benefit of becoming another feeder tour for the PGA Tour.

“I would be very much for a merger of the European Tour and other tours,” Harrington said after the third round of the Turkish Airlines Open.

“The European Tour has been playing second place for a long time now and normally the second biggest company takes over the fourth and fifth biggest company to try and bridge that gap. I don’t know have they missed that opportunity, but generally, for competition that’s normally what happens, they obviously tried with the Asian Tour and other Tours, but that’s common business practice.

“I am surprised that we haven’t merged with the Ladies European Tour. We have two sets of tournament organisers, two sets of rules officials, two sets of accountants and people in both offices. You would think there are plenty of economies of scale there for our Tours to merge and reduce running costs with the LET and other Tours around the world.

“There are plenty of opportunities in the business of golf for these mergers, does it have to be the European Tour and the PGA Tour – I don’t really see that.

“It would put the European Tour as very much a feeder Tour alongside the Canadian Tour and South American Tour that the PGA Tour already own. It would suggest that the policy of the PGA Tour was to keep players on their home Tours and to bring them as needed to the PGA Tour, there is just not enough room for everybody on the PGA Tour as is.”

2019 Turkish Airlines Open 4PVI5472_1

Padraig Harrington. Photo by Golffile

As for the possibility of a Global Tour, Harrington believes that already exists in everything but name.

“There are already 12 events on the calendar for players who only want to play that type of global Tour, the Majors and WGC’s,” he said. “We have Rolex events.

“Gone are the days back in Seve’s time when you couldn’t get into an event in the States. Now there are as many opportunities as you need. Again, the PGA Tour have recognised that they don’t need to be saturated by all of the players all of the time.

“It’s hard to build brands if there are too many players, it just muddies the water. It’s much better for them to have a Japanese or European star coming in and playing in an event or two in the states because it gets some media attention.

“If a Japanese player wins four or five times on his home Tour and comes to the PGA Tour for an event, he will bring over a hundred media with him whereas if he is playing all year in the states and doesn’t win, he ain’t bringing that sort of attention with him.

“The PGA Tour is too deep at the moment, and it’s hard for the US-based players to build their brand. If you are not up there competing with the best players, you get lost.

“I think it would make sense for the PGA Tour to soften the standards in their fields which is what they are trying to do by controlling some of the other tours around the world already. They need someone winning consistently like Tiger did in order to build that big star, glory TV deal.”

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