Notes: Nicklaus approves of Tiger's business interests

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BUSINESS AND GOLF: Tiger Woods turns 41 on Friday, and while he didn't play much this year, he kept busy reorganizing his business interests under one brand he called ''TGR.'' Woods referred to it as setting up ''phase two'' of his life.

Business and golf is nothing new with prominent players. In fact, Jack Nicklaus believes it helped his golf more than it was any type of distraction. Nicklaus left IMG and Mark McCormack in 1970 to set up his own business, and it never got in the way of competing or preparing for majors.

''I always did what I had to do,'' Nicklaus said. ''If my day was filled up with golf, it would be a boring day for me. I needed more stimulation. I think business and my family and some things I did on the outside created my away time, so that when I came back to play golf, then I really focused on it. If golf was all I had, I would have gotten lazy with it. I tried to be very efficient.''


BEGINNING OF THE ROLEX SERIESThe European Tour is introducing the Rolex Series this year, which starts in late May with the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and ends in late November with the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The other events that make up the Rolex Series are the Irish Open and Scottish Open in successive weeks ahead of the British Open; the Italian Open in October; and then the Turkish Airlines Open and Nedbank Challenge in South Africa leading into the finale in Dubai.

European Tour chief Keith Pelley said one goal was to create a product that ''provides a strong financial offering for our young players so they don't have to go to the United States.'' All the tournaments will have a minimum $7 million purse.

While 2017 is the inaugural year of the Rolex Series and Pelley expects it to expand, he should get an early indication of its traction.

For starters, PGA Tour purses (minus the majors and the World Golf Championships) average $7.06 million this season. Equally important are world ranking points, and the gap between the PGA Tour and the European Tour continues to grow.

PGA Tour events awarded an average of 57.4 points to the winner in 2016, up from 56.4 a year ago. The European Tour averaged 42 points for the winner, slightly down from 42.2 points last year.

Throw out the majors and WGCs, and the PGA Tour offered an average of 50.6 points compared with 32.9 points for European Tour events.

The BMW PGA Championship is considered the flagship event for Europe and is guaranteed to offer the winner 64 points (Jordan Spieth received 52 points for winning the Colonial, even though it had a much stronger field that week).

Among the rest of the regular European Tour events, the strongest fields were the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the DP World Tour Championship, both offering 52 points to the winner. The PGA Tour had 17 regular events that offered 52 or more. That includes the FedEx Cup playoff events, which averaged 69 points for the winners. The first two FedEx Cup events offered 74 points, slightly below World Golf Championship level.

Europe at least hopes to build some momentum with the first part of the Rolex Series, particularly the stretch between the U.S. Open and British Open. The Irish Open and the Scottish Open last year offered 46 points to the winner. They will be up against The Greenbrier Classic (canceled last year because of flooding) and the John Deere Classic, which offers the smallest purse ($5.6 million) among PGA Tour events that earn full FedEx Cup points.