Rory and Tiger saved the PGA Tour. But the DP World Tour is still on life support.

Ronan MacNamara
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Rory and Tiger saved the PGA Tour. But the DP World Tour is still on life support.

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

First things first, I think the changes coming to the PGA Tour for next season will make the viewing experience more compelling. I feel the last few years have deprived us of the top players competing against each other outside of the majors and World Golf Championships. 

The Canadian Open in July stands out as the best tournament I have watched all season, simply because it had Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau going head to head at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday. 

That’s all I want, to be able to tune in on a Thursday and see a plethora of star names and on a Sunday evening still see a few in the mix, rather than having three or four big names starting and then fading away into the abyss leaving the spotlight for… Wyndham Clark. 

This Monday Night Golf that will begin in January fascinates me. For the younger audience and casual golf fan this could be brilliant. 

Apart from a select few, golfers are media trained and quite guarded and I feel this new format on Monday nights will give fans the opportunity to get to know the players on a more personal level. 

Scottie Scheffler is the world number one, but who the heck is he? We know nothing about him or what his personality is. The Monday Golf League will give us the opportunity to learn about players personal lives and what they are like off the golf course. 

However, where does the DP World Tour come into all of this? What about the “strategic alliance” that was formed between the PGA Tour and DP World Tour in the face of LIV threat?

The DP World Tour has become the unwanted problem middle child that’s just a pain in the arse! You want a Christmas present? Here, here’s some stamps, go have fun.

Nothing will change for the DP World Tour other than it becoming completely unwatchable for 90% of the year bar the January and November events in Dubai, the BMW Championship at Wentworth and the Scottish Open, while also having the cream of the crop picked away by the lucrative sums on offer Stateside.

I mean, the PGA Tour to its credit has cast an eye on the feeder tours and the Korn Ferry Tour where golf has now become a sport where you get paid for going to work. Previously, if you didn’t have a good week at work, you didn’t get paid. 

This takes the burden off players relying on money from their families and sponsors so that’s huge for the younger players turning pro in their late teens early 20s, they have somewhere to play and establish themselves and have a financial backing, which is something LIV was going to take away from them. 

This has a massive impact on the DP World Tour players, particularly the young up and coming players. The likes of Guido Migliozzi, the Hojgaard twins, Robert MacIntyre etc would surely want to play Korn Ferry Tour?

This comes in the wake of the news that PGA Tour rookies or returning members from the Korn Ferry Tour will receive a $500,000 guaranteed league minimum up front, against their season earnings. 

That’s fantastic news for anyone looking to cut their teeth at the top table – should they qualify. You can definitely make a living every year off 500 grand. You can pay expenses, provide for your family etc and you aren’t making a loss if you miss the cut or finish down the field like in Europe. 

If you have a mediocre to decent season on the DP World Tour you might struggle to earn north of €150,000. 

Only 45 players have earned over €500,000 on the DP World Tour this season while 125 players made over $1,000,000 before the FedEx Cup playoffs began on the PGA Tour. 

Jay Monahan wouldn’t even guarantee that the Genesis Scottish Open would be one of the elevated events next season. Why would it be? They are in no danger of losing Genesis as a tour sponsor with the event in Riviera, but they risk losing big sponsors like John Deere, Waste Management and Sony among others if their events aren’t added to the rota to be ‘elevated’ every few years. 

It proves the point that these Rolex Series events brought in by Keith Pelley in Europe just haven’t worked, sure even the Irish and Italian Opens have lost their gold star status. Did they really get the fields that were anticipated? Definitely not.  

This was a failed attempt to build a tour around six or seven elite events in Europe but now it seems the PGA Tour have come across a sort of hybrid model of this and have the financial resources to put it into place with $20 million purses on offer. 

Essentially if you want a piece of the big time, a seat at the table on the PGA Tour, your best bet is to leave the DP World Tour and try earning your way on the Korn Ferry Tour. 

Even if you’re a journeyman pro in Europe and LIV haven’t come calling your ticket to the money might come from a year on the Korn Ferry. 

Last winter the likes of Tom McKibbin, Ruaidhri McGee, Paul McBride, David Carey and Gary Hurley all tried to make their way through Korn Ferry Tour Q-School rather than ply their trade on the Challenge and Alps Tours this term.

The strategic alliance was formed to prevent the DP World Tour from becoming part of LIV Golf, which was also part of the self interest of the PGA Tour, but now that Monahan and co have stumbled upon this better way to fend off LIV they have sort of given Europe the cold shoulder. 

If you’re an aspiring player in Europe, the Korn Ferry could be your escape. 

The Omega European Masters this week, growing up this was one of the big events in Europe and would usually have a sprinkling of star names but this year the prize fund has been diminished and the field to match. 

Even the European golfers who failed to make the FedEx Cup playoffs or Tour Championship couldn’t be coaxed to venture to the Swiss Alps for a stunning event with a super golf course and views to beat the band. 

And what about the ISPS HANDA World Invitational at Galgorm Castle. It had less ranking points than a corresponding Korn Ferry Tour event.

Is it any wonder that of the full-time DP World Tour players, only Thomas Pieters (36) and Ryan Fox (48) are inside the top-50 in the world while seven occupy top-100 spots. The opportunities for our better European players to break into the top-100 never mind the top-50 are scarce.

If the DP World Tour want big purses and stellar fields, might they have to bite the bullet and allow the LIV players to play? If the LIV players lose the lawsuit against the PGA Tour and aren’t allowed back, they have to play somewhere… 

The DP World Tour has been on life support for years now with its condition worsening year on year and it could get to a stage – if it hasn’t already – where it isn’t even a breeding ground for the next generation of European Ryder Cup talent.

Are these developments a precursor to the death knoll for the DP World Tour? 

Only time will tell.

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