Is The European Tour A Feeder Tour?
The top ten players on the DP World Tour will earn PGA Tour cards.
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Hey Golfers —
Last week Matt Fitzpatrick said, “the European Tour is going to become a feeder tour for the PGA Tour” on Fore Play’s podcast.
Matt isn’t the only person who has expressed this statement since recent changes the DP World Tour has made in its partnership with the PGA Tour to battle the nascent LIV Golf League for talent.
As part of the Strategic Alliance between the PGA Tour and DP World Tour — the PGA Tour will award PGA Tour cards to the top ten finishers on the 2023 DP World Tour — excluding golfers that already have PGA Tour cards.
The counterargument is that DP World Tour players have left for years to play on the PGA Tour.
And that is true.
But I think they are two different things. Let me explain.
Historically — golfers with status on the DP World Tour have sought to play on the PGA Tour for three primary reasons.
Higher floor and higher ceiling — the earning power is greater on the PGA Tour.
Retirement plan — the PGA Tour has one of the best retirement plans in professional sports. The DP World Tour doesn’t offer a retirement plan.
Off-course money — playing on the PGA Tour has the opportunity to increase sponsor earnings by 2 - 3 times more than playing on the DP World Tour.
The top ten career money leaders on the DP World Tour have all had status at one point on the PGA Tour.
One thing to keep in mind is there is some cross-over with events on each tour with the majors and co-sanctioned events — so there is double counting of events. Nonetheless — the point stands. These golfers have played on both tours for several years.
Last year Tommy Fleetwood played in 17 events on the PGA Tour — this includes co-sanctioned events and majors. He also played in 7 events on the DP World Tour that were not co-sanctioned events or majors.
So why is the word feeder being thrown around?
With the top ten players on the DP World Tour now eligible for PGA Tour cards, it is thought that the DP World Tour is letting its best talent go to the PGA Tour.
Is it guaranteed that a DP World Tour player will accept a PGA Tour card? No. Is it likely they will accept a PGA Tour card? Yes.
Here is why I say that. I chatted with Richie Ramsay a couple of months ago. Richie finished 19th last year on the DP World Tour — right on the line of earning a PGA Tour card. Richie mentioned it would be a difficult decision whether he would or wouldn’t accept a PGA Tour card. It wouldn’t be a slam-dunk decision.
I’ve been told it’s very difficult to play on the PGA Tour without a residence in the United States. Some golfers have established professional and personal lives in Europe. It wouldn’t be as easy as packing up and moving.
And it isn’t like the DP World Tour isn’t creating wealth for golfers. From a prize money standpoint — the DP World Tour is solid.
Only three golf tours had a golfer make over $1 million last year (not including the LIV Golf League).
About 9% of golfers that cashed checks on the DP World Tour made over $1 million last year. Compared to the PGA Tour at 51%.
And that 27 number is only to go up for the DP World Tour.
As part of the Strategic Alliance — the PGA Tour and DP World Tour entered into a 13-year partnership. As part of the deal, the PGA Tour invested around $225 million into the DP World Tour in an effort to increase prize funds on an annual basis.
Here is what we don't know.
Will any DP World Tour golfers decline a PGA Tour card?
Will the DP World Tour golfers that accept a PGA Tour card continue to play on the DP World Tour?
If the golfers don’t return to the DP World Tour to play in events — the DP World Tour will effectively become a feeder tour for the PGA Tour — somewhat similar to the Korn Ferry Tour, but significantly more money.
I would suspect that those golfers will return to the DP World Tour to play in a handful of events per year. Similar to the dozens of DP World Tour golfers have done in the past.
Have yourself a great Monday. Talk to you next week!
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