Eight-time former European No.1 Colin Montgomerie says it’s ‘distressing’ to see the might of the European Tour drop to staging six tournaments with prize funds of just £900,000 each.
The Tour announced recently a return to competition on July 22nd with a ‘UK Swing’ of half-a-dozen events in England and Wales.
The tournaments will be ‘no spectator’ affairs while the Tour, also in an unprecedented move, will not allow media at the six venues spread out over a 300-mile radius from Close House near Newcastle in the north-east of England to Celtic Manor in Wales where Monty led Europe to victory in the 2010 Ryder Cup.
While these are difficult times financially for any business, you would have to go back some two decades when the Tour last hosted a run of events offering around €1m each.
In contrast, the PGA Tour will resume on June 11th with the opening four ‘no spectator’ events boasting unchanged prize purses of $7m plus.
In speaking with the BBC, Monty said: “It’s sensible and I know the prize money isn’t what they’d expect but it gets the membership playing golf.
“It’s a total reset and I feel for the young guys coming through who thought they were going to be playing for millions.
“It’ll take a few years before we get back to those times. It is distressing because the likes of Ken Schofield, George O’Grady and now Keith Pelley worked hard to build this European Tour up to what it is today.
“It is a shame for all the hierarchy of the tour to see it just stop.”
The notion of the ‘no media’ rule is in stark contrast to the PGA Tour that is at least allowing some 30 media to be present to cover next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.
Lee Westwood, a winner of €36.8m alone on the European Tour, will host the opening event – the British Masters – with the prize-money being funded by the Tour.
Monty, who banked €25m from his 31 Tour wins, recalled a meeting with the Tour executive a decade ago prior to leading Europe to victory with Wales.
“The Rolex Series events playing for $7m, my God that was a complete year in our day, said Monty.
“This is a reset of 10-15 years into the past, isn’t it?
“I remember Richard Hills, who was the Director of the Ryder Cup and CEO George O’Grady holding meetings and saying to me: ‘This is important, a home win for a European Ryder Cup team is massive’.
“It kept the sponsors that we had, I wouldn’t say it increased any, but at least it kept the sponsors we had at a time when economically 2008 through 10 was horrific.
“And this will be much worse. So I can understand the Tour wanting to get it done in an economic sense.”