While talks of a ‘merger’ have been strongly denied, the European Tour and PGA of Australia have been deep in discussion about a stronger alignment.
The idea of the PGA of Australia aligning itself with either the US PGA Tour or the European Tour has been talked about for decades without any real negotiations or outcomes.
The European Tour has previously co-sanctioned Australian golf tournaments, such as the Perth International but there are some strong rumours circulating that the European Tour is chatting to the PGA of Australia about the possibility of co-sanctioning its biggest golf tournaments, such as the Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship.
Earlier this week Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail reported that the European Tour was already deep in talks to expand the their tour into Australia:
I can reveal negotiations have reached an advanced stage with the PGA of Australia for some sort of merger. Whether this means an arrangement similar to that with the Sunshine Tour in South Africa — where seven events are co-sanctioned — or something more formal has yet to be determined.
According to Lawrenson, a proposal is already on the table to European Tour members and he suggests the three big Australian tournaments may form part of a future European Tour schedule:
But it’s surely good news for European Tour members, who were given an outline of the plans at the Qatar Masters recently. If events with the prestige of the Australian Open, the Aussie Masters and the Australian PGA Championship made their way on to the schedule in December, it would be a significant upgrade on the slim offerings at the moment
Mark Hayes then reported that the wording of Lawrenson’s piece was strongly denied by the PGA of Australia’s chief commercial officer Steve Ayles.
Ayles took issue to with the proposal of a ‘merger’ but he clearly wasn’t denying that they are in regular talks with the European Tour:
PGA chief commercial officer Steve Ayles confirmed the Australian body was in regular talks “with the European and other tours” about the possibility of co-sanctioned events.
But he said use of the word “merger” in the Daily Mail article was inaccurate.
“We are in constant contact with several tours, but there has been no mention of mergers at all,” Ayles said. “We make no secret of the fact that we would consider potential co-sanctioning agreements of the events that we run.”
It has been mentioned that co-sanctioning Australia’s November/December tournaments may be a possibility, we wonder if shifting the Australian golf tournaments to February will not only be beneficial for Australian golf tournaments (as Geoff Ogilvy has suggested) but also for the European Tour when tournaments are held in South-East Asia.
Any alignment with the big world golf tours would be a positive as far as Australian golf is concerned but it remains to be seen with these rumours will evolve into anything substantial. We’ll keep you posted.