NEWPORT, Wales – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem expects some form of a “world tour” in golf in the future, even if he’s not around when it takes shape.
Europe already has one, with sanctioned tournaments on five continents. The PGA Tour is going to Malaysia later this month, returns to Shanghai for a World Golf Championship and has Japan on its wish list.
The trick is to get everyone on the same page.
“I think that at some point in time, men’s professional golf will become integrated globally,” Finchem said. “Now, what form that takes, whether it’s a total integration, whether it’s a FIFA-type, I don’t know. One question is how the competition is organized. Another question is how the organizational structure behind it is organized. The first one is the key thing.”
One reason Finchem believes a world tour is inevitable is marketing and sponsorship, which includes the players. Phil Mickelson is sponsored by Barclays, which promotes tournaments in Singapore, Scotland and New York. He is playing all of them this year.
The U.S. tour also has such multinational title sponsors as Deutsche Bank and BMW (both playoff events), Accenture and Zurich.
“I think it’s a matter of time,” Finchem said. “Golf generally is a splintered sport, multi-organizational at every level. But there’s movement. The last 15 years there’s been a lot of movement. I would see that continuing to develop toward integration.”
Even though the Ryder Cup completed a rugged stretch of golf – some players competed seven out of nine weeks, all big events – that doesn’t mean the season is over. The Fall Series still has four tournaments left, although the focus shifts overseas.
Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott, K.J. Choi and Ryan Palmer are among those planning to play the tour’s event in Malaysia, which is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour. Then it’s off to Shanghai for the HSBC Champions, Singapore and onward to Dubai for Europe, with Tiger Woods heading Down Under again to defend his title in the Australian Masters.
Integration can get tricky, for sure. But it starts with cooperation.
The European Tour was the first outside tour to set up golf in Asia, and one year had more tournaments in China than in Scotland. Now comes the American tour looking to create tournaments and opportunities for its members.
Finchem says he and European tour chief George O’Grady have been “working together.”
“We’re not going to play a ton of tournaments over there, so it shouldn’t be a problem. George knows that,” Finchem said. “We’re talking to him constantly about what our plan would be. My guess is it will result in us doing even more together.”
PAVIN DONATION: U.S. Ryder Cup players and captains have donated more than $15 million, with $50,000 of their $200,000 charity allotment directed to the “Play Golf America” program at the college of their choice.
Oklahoma State received two such donations, from Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan. Georgia Tech also had two players – Matt Kuchar and Stewart Cink – although Kuchar directed his to the Coastal College of Georgia.
Phil Mickelson, who had been splitting his contribution between Arizona State (his alma mater) and San Diego (where his brother is the golf coach), sent the entire donation to San Diego this year.
The biggest surprise came from the captain.
Corey Pavin, an All-American at UCLA, sent his money to Grambling State and Spellman College, two historically black colleges.
“We just thought it was something we wanted to do,” Pavin said during the matches. “We looked at several programs and decided on these two. There was really no other reason.”
The PGA of America sponsors the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship and has a program devoted to diversity. PGA chief executive Joe Steranka wasn’t surprised when he saw the list of donations, noting that Lisa Pavin is Vietnamese.
“Having a captain and his wife, a multicultural couple raising a beautiful daughter, the commitment they have made to historically minority colleges shows people they have their eyes wide open on the future of this country and this sport,” Steranka said.
NEXT RYDER CUP: Corey Pavin expects Rickie Fowler to be on several Ryder Cup teams for years to come, so Celtic Manor was good training for the 21-year-old rookie.
The same could be said for Davis Love IIIPresidents Cup, since 2005.
“I talked to Darren (Clarke) and Sergio (Garcia), and we talked about how bad we want to play,” Love said, who hit balls on the practice range with Padraig Harrington on Sunday.
The PGA of America typically announces its next captain within the next month or so.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Graeme McDowell won a major in June and won the decisive point in the Ryder Cup in October. The last player to do both in the same year was Tom Watson in 1983.
FINAL WORD: “It would have been nice for Graeme to hole the putt. For the rest of the team, we thought it would be nice if he didn’t have to.” – Padraig Harrington, on Graeme McDowell’s 4-foot par putt on the 17th hole that Hunter Mahan conceded to give Europe the Ryder Cup.