PGA European Tour

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The PGA European Tour is a top-level professional men's golf tour. Its headquarters are at Wentworth Club in Virginia Water, Surrey, England. This tour is the primary golf tour in Europe. In worldwide prestige, the European Tour is generally considered a close second to the PGA TOUR in the United States. Despite the "PGA" in its name, the European Tour is completely separate from the PGA TOUR and the PGA of America. It was first established by the British based Professional Golfers' Association, but became independent of its parent in 1984. Its tournaments are mostly held in Europe, but in recent years, it has expanded to other parts of the world outside of North America. Only one of the events held in Europe takes place east of the former Iron Curtain, and that clashes with the PGA Championship and has one of the smallest purses of the season.

The European Tour conducts the Ryder Cup Matches in cooperation with the PGA of America.

Contents

History

Professional golf began in Europe, specifically in Scotland. The first professionals were clubmakers and greenkeepers who also taught golf to the wealthy men who could afford to play the game (early handmade equipment was expensive) and played "challenge matches" against one another for small purses. The first multi-competitor strokeplay tournament was The Open Championship, which was introduced in 1860. That year it was for professionals only, and attracted a field of eight. The following year amateurs were permitted to enter. Unlike in many other sports which originated in the United Kingdom, the amateur-professional divide never created major problems in golf, at least at the elite competitive level.

Over the few decades following the creation of The Open Championship the number of golf tournaments with prize money increased slowly but steadily. Most were in the United Kingdom, but there were also several "national opens" in various countries of Continental Europe. However, for many decades it remained difficult if not impossible for golfers to earn a living from prize money alone. From 1901 the British professionals were represented by The Professional Golfers' Association, and it was this body which ultimately created the European Tour.

By the post-World War II period prize money was becoming more significant, encouraged by the introduction of television coverage. However each event was organised separately by a golf club, association, or a commercial promoter. In the U.S. a formal PGA Tour had existed since the 1930s, and in 1972 The Professional Golfers' Association introduced the PGA European Tour. In its early years the season ran for six months from April to October, and was based entirely in Europe, and mainly in Great Britain and Ireland. For example the 1972 season consisted of twenty tournaments, of which 12 were in the United Kingdom and one was in the Republic of Ireland. Of the seven events in Continental Europe, six were "national opens", namely the Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swiss Opens. The seventh was the Madrid Open.

Over the next three decades the tour gradually lengthened and globalised. 1982 saw the introduction of the first event outside of Europe, namely the Tunisian Open. In that year there were 27 tournaments and the season stretched into November for the first time. In 1984 the PGA European Tour became independent of The Professional Golfers' Association.

The European Tour has always been sensitive to the risk that its best players will leave to play on the PGA Tour: both for the higher purses it offers almost every week, and to increase their chances of glory in the three majors played in the U.S. by acclimatising and playing more on U.S.-style courses. In an attempt to counter this it introduced the "Volvo Bonus Pool" in 1988. This was an extra pot of prize money which was distributed at the end of the season to the most successful players of the year - but only golfers who had played in a high number of the European Tour's events received a share. This system continued until 1998, after which renewed emphasis was placed on maximising the prize money in individual tournaments.

In 1989 the tour visited Asia for the first time for the Dubai Desert Classic. By 1990 there were 38 events on the schedule, including 37 in Europe, and the start of the season had moved back to February. A first visit to East Asia followed for the 1992 Johnnie Walker Classic in Bangkok. This has since proved to be one of the most notable initiatives in the history of the tour, as East Asia is becoming almost its second home. Shortly afterwards the tour also made its debut in the former Soviet Bloc at the 1994 Czech Open, but much less has come of this development as participation in golf in the region remains low and sponsors there are unable to compete financially with their West European rivals for the limited number of slots available on the main tour each summer. However the second tier Challenge Tour has visited Central and Eastern Europe somewhat more frequently. In 1995 the European Tour began a policy of co-sanctioning tournaments with other PGA Tours, by endorsing the South African PGA Championship on the Southern African Tour (now the Sunshine Tour). This policy was extended to the PGA Tour of Australasia in 1996, and most extensively to the Asian Tour.

While the golf authorities in the various parts of the world, all of which are independent as the sport has no global governing body, co-operate harmoniously on the whole, there is also room for rivalry. The European Tour is very self-conscious about its position relative to the PGA Tour, but the two have steadily moved closer together on the course. In 1998 the European Tour added the three U.S. majors to its official schedule. The leading Europeans had all been competing in them for many years, but now their prize money counted towards the European Tour Order of Merit, which sometimes made a great deal of difference to the end-of-season rankings. The following year the three individual World Golf Championships, also usually played in America, and also offering far more prize money than most European events, were established and added to the European Tour schedule. Since the minimum number of events that a player must play to retain membership of the European Tour has long been eleven, this meant that international players could in theory become members of the tour by playing just four events on it apart from the majors and the World Golf Championships, which all elite players enter in any case. Players such as Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have taken advantage of this to play the PGA and European Tours concurrently and even Tiger Woods, who has sometimes played nine of the necessary eleven events, once suggested that he might enter the extra four required so that he could win the European Order of Merit, although he is yet to do so.

Status and prizemoney

It is beyond dispute that the European Tour is the second most important tour in men's golf, behind the PGA Tour and well ahead of all the others. What is harder to define is its standing relative to the PGA Tour and whether that has risen or fallen in recent years.

The total 2005 prize fund on the PGA Tour is approximately $250 million. On the European Tour it is over £80 million or around $150 million, which is sixty percent as much (it isn't possible to give a precise total in any currency until the end of the season as there are prize funds in several different currencies, and they are converted at the weekly rate). However both of these totals include around $50 million in prize money for seven co-sanctioned events, namely the majors and the World Golf Championships, and excluding these the European Tour has approximately 50% as much prize money. It can be argued that since PGA Tour members have had far more wins and top ten finishes in the seven co-sanctioned events in recent years, the 50% figure is a better reflection of the actual resources of the European Tour relative to its rival.

As of early 2005 four of the top ten players in the Official World Golf Rankings are full members of the European Tour, namely Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington. In addition Vijay Singh has registered as a member for the first time since 1998, but it is unclear how many events he intends to play in Europe; probably very few. All five of these men are also members of the PGA Tour, and they have moved to it as their main or joint main tour after playing in Europe first. It is unknown for elite players to move in the opposite direction. The European Tour is traditionally the first overseas move for outstanding players from non-European countries in the British Commonwealth, which have long been a major source of golf's elite, for example Greg Norman and Nick Price, and these men tended to move to the PGA Tour as a second step. It seems however that the European Tour is losing this role, with the likes of Adam Scott choosing to move directly to the U.S. Additionally there is a trend for young golfers from the United Kingdom to play mainly on the PGA Tour. In some cases, such as that of top twenty ranked Luke Donald this is a natural follow through from taking a golf scholarship at a U.S. university; such scholarships are not available in Europe.

When continental Europe produced its first global golf stars in the 1970s, such as Seve Ballesteros, and especially when Europe began to notch up wins over the United States in the Ryder Cup in the mid 1980s, there was widespread optimism about the future standing of the European Tour relative to the PGA Tour. This has lessened somewhat as several major European countries, for example Germany and Italy, have not produced high ranked golfers on a regular basis as was anticipated at that time. Nonetheless, the number European countries which have produced winners on the European Tour has increased steadily, with notable strength in depth developing in the Scandinavian countries. Also, the prize funds of many European Tour events have increased rapidly since the late 1990s. There is a list of prize funds here (http://www.europeantour.com/tournaments/schedule.sps?iTourID=1) (note that they are not all announced in advance, and those which are not fixed in Euros are only converted into the Euros after the event). Leaving aside the majors and World Golf Championship events, which are the most lucrative on the schedule, there is still much more variation in prize funds than on the PGA Tour, but two key tiers can be identified: those not far away from a million Euros, and those in the three to four million Euros range. Most of the former group are for co-sponsored events outside Europe and most of the latter are for events staged in Europe. At an exchange rate of around 1.3 Euros to the dollar these tournaments are a little less than a typical "regular" event on the PGA Tour, with its 2005 prize fund of $5-5.5 million, but they are rich enough to attract many leading players who are members of both tours to play in Europe in those weeks.

The structure of the European Tour season

Outline of the season

The table below illustrates the structure of the European season. The events shown are for the 2005 season,but there are only minor variations in the overall pattern from one year to the next. Tournaments sometimes change venue, and quite often change name, especially when they get a new sponsor, but the principal events have fixed and traditional places in the schedule, and this determines the rhythm of the season.

The schedule includes three events held late in the previous year. All of the events up until late March take place outside of Europe, and most of these are co-sanctioned with other tours. The 2005 season includes five events in China (with one in Hong Kong), two events in South Africa, and single events in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. All four major championships are official stops on the European Tour, as are the three individual World Golf Championship events, and the majority of these events take place in the U.S. From around the end of March the tour plays mainly in Europe, and the events in its home continent generally have higher prize money than those in other apart from the ones in the U.S. There is much more variation in the level of prize money between tournaments on the European Tour than on the PGA Tour. The season ends with the Volvo Masters, the equivalent of the PGA Tour's Tour Championship, which is normally scheduled to end on the last Sunday of October.

Schedule

The weekly numbers are those used by the Official World Golf Rankings, which apply to events on all the main men's golf tours.

WeekTournamentHost countryNotes
48Volvo China OpenChinaco-sanctioned with the Asian Tour
49Omega Hong Kong OpenHong Kong, Chinaco-sanctioned with the Asian Tour
50Dunhill ChampionshipSouth Africaco-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour
4South African Airways OpenSouth Africaco-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour
5Caltex Masters presented by CarlsbergSingaporeco-sanctioned with the Asian Tour
6Heineken ClassicAustraliaco sanctioned with PGA Tour of Australasia
7Holden New Zealand OpenNew Zealandco sanctioned with PGA Tour of Australasia
8Carlsberg Malaysian OpenMalaysiaco-sanctioned with the Asian Tour
9WGC-Accenture Match Play ChampionshipUnited StatesWorld Golf Championship
10Dubai Desert ClassicUnited Arab Emiratesin Asia, but not co-sanctioned
11Qatar MastersQatarco-sanctioned with the Asian Tour
12TCL ClassicChinaco-sanctioned with the Asian Tour
13Enjoy Jakata Standard Chartered Indonesia OpenIndonesiaco-sanctioned with the Asian Tour
14Estoril Open de PortugalPortugalFirst event in Europe
15The Masters (April)United StatesMajor
15Madeira Island OpenPortugalSecondary to the Masters
16Open de EspanaSpain
17Johnnie Walker ClassicChinaco-sanctioned with the Asian Tour
18BMW Asian OpenChinaco-sanctioned with the Asian Tour
19Telecom Italia OpenItaly
20Daily Telegraph Dunlop MastersEngland
21Nissan Irish OpenRepublic of Ireland
22BMW ChampionshipEnglandThe tour's "home tournament"
23Celtic Manor Wales OpenWales
24KLM OpenNetherlands
25U.S. Open (June)United StatesMajor
25Aa St Omer OpenFrancesecondary to the U.S. Open
26Open de FranceFrance
27Smurfit European OpenRepublic of Ireland
28Barclays Scottish OpenScotland
29The Open Championship (July)United KingdomMajor
30Deutsche Bank Players Championship of EuropeGermany
31Scandinavian Masters by CarlsbergSweden
32Johnnie Walker Championship at GleneaglesScotland
33PGA Championship (August)United StatesMajor
33BMW Russian OpenRussiaSecondary to the PGA Championship
34WGC-NEC InvitationalUnited StatesWorld Golf Championships
35BMW International OpenGermany
36Omega European MastersSwitzerland
37Linde German MastersGermany
38HSBC World Match Play ChampionshipEngland16 man matchplay event. Highest 1st prize in golf.
39Seve TrophyvariesTeam event
40Dunhill Links ChampionshipScotlandCelebrity pro-am
41WGC-American Express ChampionshipvariesWorld Golf Championships
41Abamba Open de CanariasSpain
42TBCTBC
43Mallorca ClassicSpain
44Volvo MastersSpainThe "tour championship"

For the latest version of the tour schedule on the European Tour's website, with this year's tournament dates, champions' names, prize fund totals and links to full results, click here (http://www.europeantour.com/tournaments/schedule.sps?iTourID=1r).

Order of Merit winners

The European Tour's money list is known as the "Order of Merit". It is calculated in Euros, although some of the events have prize funds which are fixed in British Pounds or U.S. Dollars. In these instances the amounts are converted into Euros at the exchange rate for the week that the tournament is played.

YearOrder of Merit leaderCountryEarnings (€)
2004Ernie ElsSouth Africa4,061,904
2003Ernie ElsSouth Africa2,975,374
2002Retief GoosenSouth Africa2,360,127
2001Retief GoosenSouth Africa2,862,806
2000Lee WestwoodEngland3,125,146
1999Colin MontgomerieScotland1,822,880

Up to 1998, the Order of Merit was calculated in British Pounds.

YearOrder of Merit leaderCountryEarnings (£)
1998Colin MontgomerieScotland993,077
1997Colin MontgomerieScotland798,947
1996Colin MontgomerieScotland875,146
1995Colin MontgomerieScotland835,051
1994Colin MontgomerieScotland762,719
1993Colin MontgomerieScotland613,682
1992Nick FaldoEngland708,522
1991Seve BallesterosSpain545,353
1990Ian WoosnamWales574,166
1989Rohan RaffertyNorthern Ireland400,311
1988Seve BallesterosSpain451,559
1987Ian WoosnamWales253,717
1986Seve BallesterosSpain242,208
1985Sandy LyleScotland162,552
1984Bernhard LangerGermany139,344
1983Nick FaldoEngland119,416
1982Greg NormanAustralia66,405
1981Bernhard LangerGermany81,036
1980Greg NormanAustralia74,828
1979Sandy LyleScotland49,232
1978Seve BallesterosSpain54,348
1977Seve BallesterosSpain46,435
1976Seve BallesterosSpain39,503
1975Dale HayesSouth Africa20,507
1974Peter OosterhuisEngland32,127
1973Tony JacklinEngland24,839
1972Peter OosterhuisEngland18,525
1971Neil ColesEngland10,479

The European Tour officially began in 1972 [1] (http://www.europeantour.com/tournaments/fullreport.sps?iTourNo=2004025&id=1102364), but there is an Order fo Merit list for 1971 on the Tour's official site and unofficial or semi-official money lists existed before that. For full Order of Merit details for each season from 1971 onwards click here (http://www.europeantour.com/stats/OrderOfMerit.sps?iTourID=1).

See also

External links

no:Europatouren sv:PGA European Tour

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