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Thomas Bjorn hits back at criticism
October 20, 2010

Tournament Players Committee chairman Thomas Bjorn has hit back at Luke Donald after the Briton criticised the European Tour for raising the competitive appearances needed to retain full membership.

The tour said last week that for 2011 it will lift the amount of tournaments players have to compete in to qualify for membership from 12 to 13, the second increase in two years.

World number eight Donald, who has had a successful year on both sides of the Atlantic, told Reuters the new move “might end up backfiring on the tour”.

Bjorn, however, said on Tuesday the fresh rules would not be asking too much of American-based players like Donald, world number seven Paul Casey and 23rd-ranked Justin Rose.

“I can’t understand where Luke is coming from because for the whole good of the tour we can’t take into consideration what one, two or three guys think,” the Dane told Reuters in an interview ahead of this week’s Castello Masters.

“I have nothing against players like Justin and Luke … they can play wherever they like and that’s down to them.

“We can’t force players to change their lives and if any player says, ‘if you want to do that then I’ll just go and play my golf in America’, that’s their decision,” added Bjorn.

“But rules are there and besides if you are inside the top-50, like most of the Europeans competing in America are, then we are not asking them to do something that is extremely difficult by having to now play 13 tournaments.”

Donald, who finished third in the 2010 U.S. Tour’s FedExCup series and lies 16th on the European Tour’s money list, said last week he did not envisage an extra tournament being a problem personally.

The Englishman, though, said he could see fellow Europeans playing in the United States struggling to commit to 13 events.

“Every time they add a tournament it makes it a little bit more difficult,” said Donald.

“It might end up backfiring on the European Tour if they try and push people to play too many European events. They might just say ‘oh forget it’.”

Donald’s Ryder Cup team mates Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell also intend to play more golf in the U.S. next year but Bjorn said the European Tour had to protect its sponsors.

“We have to look after our tour, what this tour stands for and also our European Tour events,” said the Dane.

“We are in a tough environment at the moment so we have to make it easier for them to keep sponsoring the events.”

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