Four months ago we published our latest edition of the Anonymous Pro Survey, in which the rank and file of the PGA Tour spoke their minds on subjects ranging from slow play to Phil Mickelson to politics. The poll was so revealing — and so popular among our audience — that it got us thinking: How do European Tour pros feel about the game’s hot-button topics? Prevailing wisdom says that the Euros are wired differently, that their tour is more fun, their pace of play swifter, their fans more astute. But are those perceptions a reality?
Over two days at the Turkish Airlines Open, in November, we granted anonymity to 34 European pros, including six Ryder Cuppers and four major champions, and asked them these questions and many more, including whether Rory will win a major in 2019, what percent of European pros aspire to play in the U.S., and which American player most gets under the Euros’ skin. (It’s not who you think it is!)
ARE U.S. FANS GENERALLY LESS KNOWLEDGEABLE THAN EUROPEAN FANS?
“No, just louder.”
“No, we go to some places where the fans are clueless.”
“About golf or about beer?”
“Yes, Americans know less about Europeans than Euros know about American players.”
ARE U.S. FANS GENERALLY LESS RESPECTFUL THAN EURO FANS?
“American fans are just crazier.”
“The difference is American golf attracts more sports fans whereas Europe attracts more golf fans.”
OTHER THAN THE BRITISH OPEN, WHAT EURO EVENT SHOULD BE ON U.S. FANS’ BUCKET LISTS?
BMW PGA: 47%
Irish Open: 18%
“The atmosphere at Wentworth is electric and with the new date [from May to September] it will be even bigger.”
BEST COURSE ON THE EURO TOUR THAT MOST AMERICANS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF?
Le Golf National (France): 18%
Valderrama (Spain): 12%
Leopard Creek (South Africa): 12%
Ballyliffin (Ireland)/Abu Dhabi GC: 9%
“If they didn’t know Le Golf National before, they know it now.”
WHAT PERCENT OF EURO TOUR PLAYERS ASPIRE TO PLAY THE PGA TOUR?
“It should be 99% PGA Tour.”
“The PGA Tour is too far away from my home and family.”
IF YOU HAD YOUR CHOICE TO PLAY THE EUROPEAN TOUR OR PGA TOUR BUT COULD ONLY PLAY ONE, WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
PGA Tour: 70%
European Tour: 30%
WHICH TOUR IS MORE FUN TO PLAY?
European Tour: 88%
PGA Tour: 12%
“[PGA Tour] You know what’s fun? Making three times the money.”
“[Euro Tour] It’s less serious. The PGA Tour is big business.”
WHO IS THE BEST EUROPEAN TOUR PLAYER RIGHT NOW?
Justin Rose: 64%
Tommy Fleetwood: 24%
Francesco Molinari: 9%
Rory McIlroy: 3%
“Justin Rose turns up at events expecting to win.”
BEST EUROPEAN PLAYER WITHOUT A MAJOR?
Tommy Fleetwood: 56%
Lee Westwood: 26%
Jon Rahm: 9%
Colin Montgomerie: 6%
Alex Noren: 3%
WHICH EUROPEAN-BORN PLAYER HAS THE MOST NATURAL TALENT?
Rory McIlroy: 29%
Sergio Garcia: 21%
Tommy Fleetwood: 12%
Victor Dubuisson: 9%
WHICH UNHERALDED EURO PLAYER IS MOST LIKELY TO BECOME A STAR IN THE NEXT 3-5 YEARS?
Sam Horsfield: 16%
Thomas Detry: 16%
Lucas Bjeergard: 16%
4 tied: 6%
“Alex Noren is ‘unknown’ for how good he is.”
FUNNIEST EURO TOUR PLAYER?
Henrik Stenson: 23%
Jamie Donaldson: 16%
Haotong Li, Andy Sullivan, Eddie Pepperell: 10%
“Eddie Pepperell’s Twitter game is tough to beat.”
“Pepperell speaks a special language.”
THE WHOLE “MOLIWOOD” THING…
Time to give it a rest: 44%
“It’s a great bromance.”
“I prefer Fleet-Moli.”
“The lifespan should be as long as they keep winning.”
WHAT’S A MORE VALUABLE EXPERIENCE FOR A YOUNG PLAYER: A YEAR ON THE EURO TOUR OR A YEAR ON THE WEB.COM?
Euro Tour: 82%
“The variety of courses in Europe makes you a better player.”
“You learn to be uncomfortable in Europe and to adjust quickly, which is an attribute of any successful person.”
WHERE WOULD THE LEADING MONEY WINNER ON THE WEB.COM TOUR FINISH ON THE ORDER OF MERIT IF HE PLAYED THE EURO TOUR INSTEAD?
Top 10: 5%
WOULD YOU RATHER WIN…
One PGA Tour event: 53%
Two Euro Tour events: 47%
“I’ll take two Rolex Series events.”
“Wentworth and race to Dubai, please.”
“I’ve already won a Euro event. Being a PGA Tour winner would be the bee’s knees.”
WOULD YOU RATHER WIN ONE MAJOR OR 10 EURO TOUR WINS?
One major: 97%
10 Euro titles: 3%
WHICH MAJOR TITLE DO YOU MOST COVET?
The Masters: 59%
PGA Championship: 0%
U.S. Open: 3%
British Open: 38%
“The British is the best.”
“I already know what I’d serve at the Champions dinner…but I’ll never tell.”
“The U.S. Open is the truest test of golf.”
HAVE YOU EVER PLAYED A TOURNAMENT ROUND HUNGOVER?
HAVE YOU EVER WITNESSED A FELLOW PLAYER CHEAT DURING A TOURNAMENT ROUND?
HAVE YOU EVER KNOWINGLY BROKEN A RULE AND NOT REPORTED IT?
“When I was 11 and it still bothers me.”
“No, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”
TRUE OR FALSE: THE EUROPEAN RYDER CUP TEAM USUALLY WINS BECAUSE IT HAS BETTER PLAYERS THAN THE U.S.
TRUE OR FALSE: THE EUROPEAN RYDER CUP TEAM USUALLY WINS BECAUSE IT HAS BETTER TEAM CHEMISTRY THAN THE U.S.
TRUE OR FALSE: THE EUROPEAN RYDER CUP TEAM USUALLY WINS BECAUSE IT HAS BETTER CAPTAINS/LEADERS/PREPARATION THAN THE U.S.
TRUE OR FALSE: AMERICAN PLAYERS DON’T CARE AS MUCH ABOUT THE RYDER CUP AS THE EUROPEANS
IF EUROPE’S RYDER CUP HOPES CAME DOWN TO AN EIGHT-FOOT PUTT, WHO WOULD YOU WANT TAKING THE PUTT?
Ian Poulter: 39%
Alex Noren: 18%
Justin Rose: 11%
WHICH U.S. PLAYER WOULD YOU MOST RELISH BEATING IN SINGLES?
Tiger Woods: 45%
Patrick Reed: 39%
Brooks Koepka/DJ: 6%
“I just want to win.”
“Reed because he’s Captain America.”
WHICH EURO PLAYER WILL ACCUMULATE THE MOST POINTS OVER THE NEXT THREE RYDER CUPS?
Tommy Fleetwood: 41%
“Can I say Moliwood?”
IF YOU WERE JIM FURYK, WOULD YOU HAVE SPLIT UP PATRICK REED AND JORDAN SPIETH AT THE 2018 RYDER CUP?
“They won 3 of 4 points so it worked.”
DESCRIBE PATRICK REED IN ONE WORD.
Also receiving votes:
Complicated, annoying, Patrick, passionate, selfish, different, self-centered, divisive, tough, fiery
WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE DINNER WITH TIGER OR PHIL?
Table for one, please!: 12%
“Table for one because Tiger would probably stick me with the check.”
“I’ve had dinner with Phil and I didn’t enjoy it.”
“I’d like to pick Tiger’s brain on how he overcame his suffering. That could really help me.”
“Phil. He’s got more to say.”
WHICH AMERICAN PLAYER MOST IRRITATES YOU?
Bryson DeChambeau: 16%
Bubba Watson: 11%
Several tied (including Mickelson): 5%
Declined to answer: 68%
“Any of them that act like babies.”
“Wait, I can only pick one?”
WILL TIGER WIN ANOTHER MAJOR?
“If he stays healthy the next two years, he’ll be World No. 1.”
“I want to say yes, but don’t think so.”
WILL RORY WIN ANOTHER MAJOR?
“If he gets out of his own way.”
“I wish I could caddie for him at Augusta.”
IF YES, WILL RORY WIN A MAJOR IN 2019?
“Not if I can help it.”
IS RORY AS COMMITTED/FOCUSED AS HE WAS 3-5 YEARS AGO?
“He’s trying too hard.”
“Probably more committed.”
ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT TOUR PLAYERS ARE HITTING THE BALL TOO FAR?
“I don’t hit it that far and that annoys me.”
SHOULD THERE BE TWO SETS OF EQUIPMENT REGS — ONE FOR PROS AND ONE FOR EVERYONE ELSE?
“A club golfer should be able to use a driver with a COR through the roof and a long putter if he wants to.”
“No, it separates golf from other sports.”
IS PACE OF PLAY A PROBLEM ON THE EURO TOUR?
“It’s nowhere near as bad as on the PGA Tour.”
DO YOU FEEL YOUR OWN PACE OF PLAY IS ACCEPTABLE?
ON A SCALE FROM 0-10 (0 = POOR, 1O = PERFECT), HOW WOULD YOU GRADE THE JOB KEITH PELLEY HAS DONE AS EURO TOUR COMMISSIONER?
10 – 3%
9 – 26%
8 – 29%
7 – 24%
6 – 9%
5 – 0%
4 – 6%
no vote – 3%
“There’s room for improvement.”
“He gets a 10 for raising purses and a 5 for everything else.”
IF YOU WERE EUROPEAN TOUR COMMISH FOR A DAY, WHAT PROBLEM WOULD YOU ADDRESS FIRST?
Slow play: 19%
Scheduling tournaments closer together: 14%
Reduce the gap in purses between the Rolex Series and lesser events: 14%
Also receiving votes:
“Chalk lines on the practice putting green — I hate that!”
“Add entertainment around the events.”
“Figure out a way to keep Euros playing more here.”
“Food for caddies.”
“Improve course conditions.”
“Improve the quality of the courses.”
“Simplify the rules.”
“Lower ranked players getting into more events.”
“Mic up players and make broadcast more interactive.”
WAS THE SHOT CLOCK MASTERS A GOOD IDEA?
“I’ve had to make a buzzer beater and it’s not fun.”
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE A SHOT CLOCK AT EVERY EURO EVENT?
“It was a fact-finding mission more than anything.”
“It’s better as a one-off.”
“Once or twice a year max.”
WHICH CURRENT EURO PLAYER WOULD MAKE THE BEST COMMENTATOR?
Matthew Southgate: 17%
Nicolas Colsaerts: 17%
Alvaro Quiros: 8%
Also receiving votes: Andy Sullivan, Edoardo Molinari, Jamie Donaldson, Padraig Harrington, Robert Rock, Luke Donald, Lee Slattery
“Lee has the most pleasant voice. He’d make any shot sound nice.”
“Some players think they are the smartest person in the locker room; Edoardo is that guy.”
“Padraig would be brilliant if you could get him to stop playing.”