Should the PGA Tour Acquire the European Tour?
Recently, European Tour star Paul Casey made comments about his "home" tour that raised a few eyebrows. According to Casey, the Tour is a far cry from the glitz and glam (and tournament purses) of their United States counterparts despite having a solid roster of world class players. "I agree with those people who think we have an unbelievable product, but we are so far from maximizing what we have, and we need to freshen things up," Casey told reporters earlier in the week. "It needs some new energy. This is the time for change as it's a great opportunity we're missing."
Those comments apparently reached the ears of both Euro Tour chief executive George O'Grady and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem shortly after, prompting Finchem to declare that he had no plans to "acquire" the European Tour.
"Certain news reports have indicated that the PGA Tour has made an offer to acquire the European Tour," Finchem said in a statement. "Those reports are inaccurate.
"However, as I have stated publicly on several occasions, the integration of professional golf can create additional value for our players, sponsors and fans."
In other words, Finchem is basically stating that he had nothing to do with the rumors, but he wasn't totally against the idea they presented. You know, if you read between the lines.
All this talk certainly raises an interesting question: Should the PGA Tour actively seek to buy-out the European Tour?
On one hand, the benefits would be substantial. Sponsorship opportunities for some of the "smaller" Euro Tour events may increase once investors realize the tour is under new leadership. From a business standpoint, seeing an influx of early adopters to any change is fairly common. That could mean more dollars for European tournaments, which could also equate to more spectator attendance.
Second, we would be inching ever so closer to what I think is a phenomenal idea: a World Tour. Greg Norman and Rupert Murdoch pitched this idea almost 20 years ago to Finchem, who declined the notion with extreme prejudice. Norman and Finchem still haven't made nice since that time, but the idea of having the entire world's best players -- not just those able to compete on the PGA or Euro Tour -- is a notion that I'll support.
Lastly, if the idea of a World Tour is unappealing, PGA and Euro players may have an easier time flip-flopping from one tour to the next. I don't necessarily see that as being a bad thing. Remember when Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood chose to play primarily on the Euro side, thus forsaking their PGA Tour brethren? That wouldn't have to happen should both tours be under the same ownership.