Tuesday, May 22, 2012


 A player task force, led by the likes of luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Paul Casey, is to set out on a mission to redress the anomaly which has so many Englishmen at the top of the world rankins, yet so few professional tournaments being staged in England.
This week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth is the only regular European Tour event to be held in England all season, a fact described as “ridiculous” by Casey.
In 2000 there were six Tour events held in England — and then the country could boast only two representatives in the top 100. Now there are two in the top three — Donald and Westwood — plus a strong supporting cast including Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Casey, who have all recently featured in the world top 10.
The recession has been the main factor in the demise of events such as the British Masters, the English Open, the B and H International and the European Open. With no sponsors willing to provide the millions involved, the Tour has been forced to find backers across the continents.
Its success in this respect is perhaps best evidenced by the outrageous bank balances of Westwood and Co. Yet, despite their wealth, these young multi-millionaires are depressed by their professional absence in their homeland. And they are putting aside their rivalries to try to drum up the backing required.
“We want to know what we can do as players to help make it happen; as we plainly need to do more than talk about it,” said Casey. “Maybe what could help is if we write a collective letter to the right people, to prospective sponsors, guaranteeing that we would all be there and would all help promote the tournament.
“If we started another event in England, featuring Lee, Luke, Ian, Justin, etc, wouldn’t that have great appeal?”
Donald concurs. “This is a great opportunity when you look at the world rankings at the moment,” said the world No 2. “This is the time to cultivate more interest. We’ve got great golfing ambassadors and need another event in England that can inspire the younger generation.
“We’re about to lose TV viewers whose parents don’t have Sky, with the BBC dropping out from golf, so we need more events in England full stop. I’d be happy to lend my name and time and help promote golf more in England.”
Guy Kinnings, the head of golf at IMG which manages Donald and Casey, revealed that talks had already taken place between the players and that he had approached Chubby Chandler, the ISM founder, who manages Westwood.
“We’re all in agreement that we have to get together and pool our resources on this,” said Kinnings.
One of golf’s shrewdest promoters, Kinnings believes that come the end of the year the sponsorship opportunities in England will increase.
“Firms have been focusing on the Olympics, channelling their marketing budgets and energies into the Games,” he said. “It will open up.” If they do, the initial plan will be to stage a “special” limited-field event. This could feature as few as a dozen top players, including England’s “famous five”, and if it is a big enough hit could be developed into a full-field Tour event. Casey seems almost certain it would be.
“Wentworth is always oversubscribed, which just shows the players and public would love it,” he said. “But if we don’t do it now, we could be screwed.”



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