Four-time Major winning Rory McIlroy returns to competition this week in Abu Dhabi believing last November’s announcement of the first step in a bigger picture European Tour and PGA Tour merger is a means of mending current ‘fractures’ and building better cohesion in the professional game.
The European Tour surprised many observers late last year with news that the long-time rival PGA Tour had acquired a minority stake in the European Tour’s media production company. The announcement was seen as a big first step toward developing a more unified golf schedule around the world.
The deal, including PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan joining the European Tour Board of Directors, effectively makes the two leading tours now more partners than rivals. This new-found alliance would allow them to collaborate on commercial opportunities and global media rights in certain territories.
While seen as a pivotal first step, any notion of a world tour — which golf executives have contemplated for more than a decade — remains some years away. The immediate goal is to figure out a schedule that keeps the tours from competing against each other and strengthening events on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. McIlroy was asked his thoughts on the move ahead of teeing-up in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“It obviously leads to more cohesion of the professional game as a whole,” he said.
“I think at the minute, the professional game is a little fractured. It has been fractured for quite a while. There’s so many different entities. You’ve got the major organisations. You’ve got the tours. You’ve got — I think if anything, what Covid did is sort of help all these entities work better together and understand what their needs are and what the situation they are in.
“I think the majors now understand what the tours go through trying to put on a season-long schedule. So I think if anything, it just makes everything a little more cohesive and by the governing bodies and the Tour working better together, I think it will just make it a more streamlined product for the players, for the media, for the consumer, basically for everyone.”