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PGA Tour and DP World Tour’s strategic alliance lacks European involvement at board level

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A further and timely reminder of the strength of European golf was delivered by Frenchman Matthieu Pavon’s maiden PGA Tour victory over Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard at Torrey Pines.

It was a notable result to illustrate the folly of an apparent marginalising of the continent’s golfing interests.

The top two in La Jolla last weekend plied their trade on the European-based DP World Tour in 2023 and appear to have now seamlessly eased into the more lucrative echelons of the American circuit.

Pavon must now reflect with much satisfaction at the way he birdied the last four holes of the season-ending tour championship in the Middle East last November.

It helped him snatch at the death one of the PGA Tour cards offered to the 10 highest Race to Dubai finishers who do not already have American playing privileges. Pavon could not have capitalised better.

This 31-year-old from Toulouse, who came seventh on his American season debut in Hawaii earlier this month, has never finished higher than 15th on the Race to Dubai.

Victory in Madrid last season was his first success in 185 attempts on the European tour. Pavon is now turning this into a purple patch of real substance.

And it shows what can be achieved by players sometimes derogatorily regarded as little more than mere journeyman stalwarts. In fact, his performances prove that the DP World Tour is populated by seriously excellent golfers.

It is a truly international set up and the vast majority of its members come from a continent that resoundingly won the Ryder Cup last autumn. These could be heady days for European golf – but, instead, alarm bells should be ringing.

The future of global golf is up for grabs like never before thanks to the turmoil brought about by the arrival of LIV and Saudi Arabian investment. But at this crucial moment it is increasingly hard to discern who is fighting Europe’s corner?

The DP World Tour is tied to a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour. The partnership has brought security to the Wentworth based circuit and a pathway to the riches of the USA now being trodden by Pavon and co.

But when the game is being encouraged to adopt a more global outlook, Europe seems more and more marginalised in the corridors of power.

With Rory McIlroy’s resignation from the PGA Tour Policy Board there is no continental representation on the player dominated body that decides future direction. This, due to the strategic alliance, is obviously key to Europe’s ongoing fortunes.

Last Sunday, a day after Pavon’s win in California, the tour’s 2024 Player Advisory Council – which feeds into the board – was announced. Of the 16 players involved only one, Ireland’s Seamus Power, is European.

The 36-year-old from Waterford is an intelligent and articulate figure, but his professional golfing heritage lies on the American side of the Atlantic.

Power has played only two purely DP World Tour events in his two years of membership – the 2022 Irish Open and last year’s event in Abu Dhabi.

He is far from the most qualified to represent the interests of those golfers who genuinely straddle both tours and try to fulfil schedules to satisfy their domestic and American fanbases.

Who is looking out for such players? There are a dozen Europeans competing for the $20m on offer at Pebble Beach this week. More than twice that number were involved at Torrey Pines last week.

Yet the tour and its administration seems inward looking and parochially US centric. This when international pressures have never been greater.

Power, along with Canadians Mackenzie Hughes and Nick Taylor and Camilo Villegas, of Colombia, are the only non American PAC members. Who is going to give Europe a break when tough decisions are taken?

Meanwhile, LIV continue to flex extraordinarily wealthy muscles. It seems Britain’s world number 16 Tyrrell Hatton, is following his Spanish Ryder Cup partner Jon Rahm to their 14-tournament schedule. Poland’s Adrian Meronk is also on his way.

That’s three Europeans who would otherwise be at the heart of the continent’s defence of the Ryder Cup next year. For them to be involved now, there will need to be a shift in the continental tour’s policy and punishments for LIV recruits.

How easy will that be to achieve when the European tour is so closely aligned to an organisation that is so stacked with American influence?

Europe has always taken a hardline on LIV leavers with hefty fines and bans. This was them acting in solidarity with the their Florida-based strategic alliance partners.

But now it feels as though that relationship needs re-examination. And, worryingly, there is an absence of player voices around the table to put forward the case for this side of the pond.

Europe initially took PGA Tour support to counter the financial pressures of the pandemic and to take on an anticipated incursion into the marketplace which ultimately came in the form of LIV.

It seemed a mutually beneficial arrangement. DP World Tour coffers were boosted and America lured more European talent.

But going forward, the administration of the game seems lopsided in favour of the US and there is little reassurance for those looking out for European interests.

Many might argue that it has been that way for decades, but results such as Pavon’s and arrivals on the scene such as LIV, suggest the need for more outward international thinking is not being properly met.

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