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European Tour increases minimum tournament requirement

The European Tour tournament committee decided on Tuesday to increase the number of mandatory events players need to play on the European tour from 11 to 12.

The extra event, to be played on European soil, is not aimed to deter the influx of U.S. based players but introduced due to the size of the tour, committee chairman Thomas Bjorn said.

World number two Phil Mickelson and number three Vijay Singh have said they are considering joining next season’s tour which culminates with the multi-million dollar Race to Dubai finale.

“We think that with the number of tournaments on our schedule it was time to put it up by one,” Bjorn told reporters.

“It is not a big ask to play 12 events, especially when a lot of the guys in question play four majors and three world golf championships.”

The Dane added that upping the tour membership criterion to 13 or 14 events could still happen in the future.

“Twelve was always the preferred number but we will keep it under review,” Bjorn said.

The decision may scupper Mickelson and Singh’s plans with participation in five European evens now required in addition to the four majors and three World Golf Championship (WGC) events to ensure a shot at the Dubai $1.6 million first prize.

Triple major champion Padraig Harrington was in favour of making it easier for leading players to play next year, rather than harder.

“I think it has been shown over the years that the better the standard the better the field and if we are attracting the likes of Vijay and Phil it’s basically a bigger pot for everybody,” the Irishman said.

“We’ve never had that inflow from the States and it would be nice to get them into the events.”

Harrington added that rather than resentment by some players who would feel U.S. Tour players might be ‘cherry picking’ they should appreciate the other side of the coin.

“It will increase sponsorships and there will be more to trickle down to those guys who think they are losing out.”

Briton Lee Westwood, second behind Harrington in the European money list, also favoured the arrival of new players.

“Phil is number two in the world and Vijay is high up there, so the world ranking points come along as well. It benefits the tour and everybody on the tour. It’s great to have the top players in the world playing this tour,” he said last weekend.

 

October 1, 2008




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