Phil looks overseas in 'stagnant' U.S. golf market
Deep Throat's advice to Woodward and Bernstein
still holds true, whether you want to understand a presidential cover-up
or why your favorite golfer is playing overseas every other weekend. Follow the money. With
European Tour purses gaining significantly against their U.S.
counterparts, many top PGA Tour players are considering joining the
European Tour. The latest to express interest is Phil Mickelson.
in the Old World is not exactly David Beckham in reverse. Mickelson would
still play the U.S. tour, but if he plays in 12 European Tour events he
can qualify for next year's season-ending Dubai World Championship
tournament, where $20 million will be up for grabs. The three
U.S.-based WCG events (Bridgestone, Accenture Match Play and CA
Championship) the three U.S. majors already count as Euro Tour events so Mickelson could
fill his Euro dance card pretty easily with events like The Scottish
Open (which he played this year) and late-season tournaments in Asia when
the PGA Tour enters its quiet fall season.
Mickelson, who's preparing to defend his title at the HBSC Championship
in Shanghai next week (another Euro Tour event), told the Agence
France-Press that he hasn't joined the European Tour yet, but that it's
"something I am certainly considering." When he explains the decision, Mickelson sounds
more like an investment banker than a professional golfer, and a savvy
one at that. "I think Dubai has taken one of the giant leaps to making the game
of golf more global in the quality of events," said Mickelson, adding
that there had been a number of contributing factors that made
international golf more attractive.
"Certainly, the dollar
weakening over the past few years has made foreign currencies much
stronger, which makes the purses much larger, so there's been a lot of
international wealth being created," he said. "The US golf industry has been stagnant for quite some time so all of our growth has been occurring on a global basis. "As
a professional golfer we have to adapt to that by playing more
internationally because that is where the opportunities are and that's
where they will continue to grow. "So I look forward to having
opportunities to continue to play more internationally and I understand
that that is going to be an important part of being an international
golfer." Mickelson has had differences with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in
the past, so it's not surprising he's quicker than most to look to
money-making opportunities overseas. The PGA Tour has put on a brave,
"weather the storm" face during the current financial crisis, but if
one of the Tour's few bankable stars is going to spend a couple months a
year playing overseas, well, that's not good.
(Photo: Michael Cohen/Getty Images)