|Photo via Twitter|
When American fans think of golf, the first and usually only thing that comes to mind is the PGA Tour. And for good reason too: the PGA is the oldest (founded in 1929) and most prestigious golf tour in the world. The PGA is also dominated by mostly American golfers, and many American fans get exposure to them through this. Because of this, most American players and fans have the PGA Tour as their one and only focus.
However, if the PGA is the equivalent of Tiger Woods, The European Tour is Phil Mickelson (minus the whole meltdown at every US Open). The European Tour has slowly but surely become the 2nd best tour in the world, with millions of Euros in sponsorship money, two sanctioned spin-off tours (the 2nd tier Challenge Tour and the Senior Tour), and its own playoff format. Golf channel will usually air some of the broadcasts of the events (Check out the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play all this week and weekend!), most American golf fans don’t seem to give the Euros the time of day. Well I’m here to tell you we need to stop ignoring our friends across the pond and start watching the great golf that comes from there.
Now you might say, “why the hell should I care about what golfers are doing 3,000 miles away when I got some great PGA players I can watch in America?” Well, for one, the things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, I encourage you to take in as much golf as possible. But as to why you should care about the European Tour, I have a few points for you:
1) Getting to see the rise of many European Players
For us Americans, we are used to a very usual theme when it comes to European players: the player has come, “out of nowhere”, and is coming to America to challenge the best of the best. We saw it all the way back with Harry Vardon came in 1913 to challenge for the US Open, and in the modern era we have seen Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Paul Lawrie, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Martin Kaymer, and Rory McIlroy take up this mantle. But here’s the thing that all of these guys had in common: they played for years on the European Tour without playing a PGA Tour event. Ballesteros is the most famous and most successful of these names on the European Tour, winning 50 events through his amazing career. McIlroy famously won the Dubai Desert Classic (more about that later) in 2009 at the age of 19. We have seen many great young European players come through the European Tour and make a big impact in golf over the past few year, such as Thomas Pieters, Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick, and, of course, the Beef man himself. It’s great to see the many players who are the faces of golf in many countries on the European Tour, and hopefully one that will continue.
|image via Twitter|
2) More and more American players are getting involved overseas
Like I said in my original paragraphs, many American golf fans enjoy watching American golfers. When the European tour first started in the 1970s, very few American players went over to play any tournaments not named the British Open. Starting in the early 2000s, though, many American players began to start playing on the European Tour on a full-time basis. One of the most famous being Brooks Koepka, the newly crowned US Open Champion. Koepka started on the Challenge Tour in 2012, and slowly worked his way up to the main European Tour. After playing for 2 years, he returned to America and has been a regular on the tour since. Many players have followed his lead, such as Peter Uihlein, David Lipsky, Daniel Im, and Paul Peterson. Overall, the European Tour has become a great place for Americans to start their career and build a great brand.
3) The European Tour is more Global than the PGA
While the majority of the European Tour events are played in Europe, the European Tour does have many tournaments throughout the world. The most famous tracks we think about are all around the UK and Ireland, but the newer tournaments are throughout the world. In fact, this week they have the Fiji International, which is in, you guessed it, Fiji. One of the coolest things that the European Tour does is the Race to Dubai: their own form of the FedEx Cup which ends annually in Dubai, UAE. Last year, Henrink Stenson took home the gold and a nice $7.5 million check to boot. Overall, the European Tour has 19 events or co-sanctioned events throughout the world.
Overall, I think the European Tour is a great product. It might not be the best tour, but it has some great tournaments and some great players. I highly encourage everyone to flip on Golf channel in the morning and catch a few holes of the European Tour. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up enjoying it!