The PGA Tour is playing in Malaysia, China and Mexico over the next three weeks. Should it stray more often from the U.S.? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in on whether or not the Tour should play more international events.
By JASON SOBEL
It’s a prototypical double-edged sword, this business of questioning whether the PGA Tour should have more international events.
On the one hand, the suits in Camp Ponte Vedra should embrace the global expansion that has seen more NFL, NBA and MLB games contested abroad in recent years. On the other, one of the Tour’s jobs is to provide a worthy schedule for its constituency – and turning that schedule into a globetrotting exhibition that only a frequent flier like Gary Player could love wouldn’t exactly accomplish that goal.
While it sounds like a terrific idea on paper – or in a boardroom – the act of bringing more tourneys worldwide wouldn’t be met with open arms by the players. Just check out this week’s CIMB Classic field, a no-cut, guaranteed-money affair which went low enough on the alternate list that the likes of Nicholas Thompson, Roberto Castro and Will Wilcox have earned spots, not to mention numerous players from smaller circuits around the world.
If the PGA Tour could be guaranteed more starts from more top players at these events, I’d be all for it. Hey, it works for the LPGA. But having players travel the globe only to hold tournaments in places like Malaysia with fields that resemble the John Deere Classic seems counterproductive to the overall message.
By REX HOGGARD
It is a welcome period for the PGA Tour, three weeks, three tournaments played outside the confines of the Lower 48. It’s also a far too rare occurrence.
The next two weeks in Asia will showcase the Tour’s talent, but will also cast a spotlight on the circuit’s inability, or unwillingness, to take the circus on the road.
Outside of this Asia swing, and the occasional cameo at the Open Championship and to Canada or Mexico, the Tour has become far too insular for the modern world. It’s time for the circuit to travel and what better place to start than the four World Golf Championships events.
Other than next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in China, the three “world” events are played at such far-flung places as Miami, Akron, Ohio, and San Francisco.
The buzzword in golf has long been growth – it is, after all, why the game returned to the Olympics in 2016 – and what better way to spark interest in developing markets than to ship the WGC-Match Play to Buenos Aires or Kuala Lumpur?
There was even talk last year of possibly sending the PGA Championship overseas, wherever that may be. What is certain, there are plenty of opportunities around the globe for the Tour to choose from.
By RYAN LAVNER
Every golf fan should want to see an additional event or two internationally during the heart of the PGA Tour schedule, but it’s easy to see why the Tour stays home from mid-January to late October.
It’s not the simplest fix, logistically.
Putting the “world” back in three of the World Golf Championships – and thus moving one of the premier events somewhere other than the continental U.S. – is the easiest to justify, but even that shift comes with its share of headaches.
The WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral is in the midst of the Florida swing. The WGC-Match Play, now scheduled for the final weekend in April, is the week before The Players Championship, the Tour’s flagship event. And the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is always the week before the PGA Championship. Moving any of those events would cause a trickle-down effect and affect the participation in either the WGC event or the tournaments surrounding it. In other words, it’s not worth it.
By RANDALL MELL
The idea of taking more PGA Tour events overseas sounds appealing, but, unfortunately, it’s not practical. Remember what happened when the Tour took its Match Play Championship to Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia, at the start of the 2001 season? The game’s biggest stars didn’t go. Six of the top seven players in the world stayed home, including world No. 1 Tiger Woods, No. 3 David Duval and No. 4 Phil Mickelson.
Seeing iconic international venues appeals, but seeing the game’s biggest stars play together appeals more. Unless it’s to play in a major championship, or for a large appearance fee, it’s unlikely the PGA Tour will induce the lion’s share of its stars to travel overseas for a one-off event. An occasional PGA Championship overseas would work. Something in Europe before a British Open probably works, too, but it would feel like a hostile invasion of European Tour territory. Really, so many of Europe’s top stars are already living in South Florida. The World Golf Championship name may seem a misnomer with all but one of those events being played in the United States, but all the world’s stars are showing up for them when they are here. They work best in the U.S.
By WILL GRAY
The PGA Tour probably doesn't need to add many more international events - the 10,000-mile commute that players faced this week from Georgia to Malaysia shows that a global schedule certainly has its drawbacks. But the Tour still should do a better job of diversifying its international outposts.
I'm sure Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, host of this week's CIMB Classic, is a fine course. But it doesn't stack up well against many courses in Australia, and certainly at least a few in South Africa. Just because the Tour is international doesn't mean it's hitting the right venues, or markets.
Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions is the lone WGC event played outside the U.S., a fact that the Tour would be well-served to rectify. At least two of those four events should require a passport, ideally with a rotation of venues across several countries. Likewise, the PGA Championship appears poised to consider an international venue at some point in the near future, a choice that would boost the game.
There are plenty of world-class venues in top-notch travel destinations outside the U.S. The Tour doesn't have to find them all, but adding one or two to the schedule each year would be a step in the right direction as golf continues to become an increasingly global affair.