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Spence speaks out on "pay for failure"

Jamie Spence, one of the most highly respected golfers on the players' committee of the PGA European Tour, has said that he is a little baffled over the timing of Bernard Gallacher's decision to resign from the board. The Ryder Cup Scot stepped down last week because he disapproved of the players' request for pay for missed cuts.

"We touched on the matter briefly at our last meeting," said Spence, who added that they had merely agreed to sound people out before a full-scale debate at the next meeting later this summer.

Spence, who would have preferred that Gallacher had stayed put to talk things through, contends that allegations that the players want to be paid "for failing" have made them look ridiculous: "The players are being shown in a bad light at a time when there are real problems which need to be aired," he added.

Spence, in 47th place on the Volvo Order of Merit with £103,942, is not in favour of money for missed cuts and believes most of his colleagues feel the same way. However, just as he appreciates that the top professionals will not want to have their prize money diluted, so he can understand the concerns of the less successful.

"People outside the top 155 are really hurting," he said. "A few years ago there were useful bag and club contracts for such players but these are becoming difficult to secure."

Spence also pointed out that, in relative terms, the players' expenses had increased since European Tour events extended to Australia, South Africa and the Middle East. "In one of those spells a player's expenses can be double the £1,200 they are liable to be on the Continent," he said.

Spence believes Gallacher's fall-out with the run-of-the mill players had its origins in the World Golf Championship events, which offer $4 million purses to those who qualify for their elite fields.

Where Gallacher, according to Spence, felt that WGC money should count towards the European Order of Merit, the players worried that it would create an insuperable gap between the top performers and themselves. Though Spence did not say as much, the fact that more and more of the top players are protesting that golf, to them, is no longer about the money, is also proving a shade galling to the rest.

The Tour has introduced new events for the regular troopers such as, for example, the West of Ireland Classic. That, though, is hardly seen as a major coup, and in Spence's estimation the £250,000 purse will allow for only a third of the field to make a profit.

Mac O'Grady, the eccentric American who won a European Tour card at the end of last year, is another to have observed that the professionals at the lower end of the European order are having too much of an uphill struggle.

O'Grady, who won the 28th Tour card at last November's Qualifying School, said at the Open that the money he had spent on going through the qualifying process had been a less than wise investment.

Instead of earning himself a good run of tournaments, he had only been given the odd start here and there.

"It doesn't worry me at my stage of life," he said. "But it is not the kind of treatment you want for Europe's up-and-coming young golfers."