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Monday
Nov132017

Lawrenson: "Rolex riches are thwarting hopes of hitting the big time"

The Daily Mail's Derek Lawrenson points out a troubling trend for the European Tour's ability to develop new talent though its Qualifying School: the Rolex Series may be making tour card retention more difficult.

As the DP World Tour Championship finishes up the European Tour season in Dubai by assembling the top 60 players, Lawrenson points out that only one Qualifying School graduate from last year--Eddie Pepperell--will be at the season ending championship.

In all, a record low of just three players — the others were Englishman Ashley Chesters and 2010 Ryder Cup member Edoardo Molinari — kept their cards for next season from the 30 handed out 12 months ago.

Contrast that to the nine who kept their cards the previous year and the 12 who retained their privileges in 2015.

Why has the success rate plummeted so alarmingly? Ironically, the prime reason is the Rolex Series: eight events that have added wealth and prestige at the top end of the European game but have skewed life horribly for those seeking to make their way who don’t gain access to them.

Lawrenson goes on to look at specific examples of players who graduated, played seemingly well enough to retain a card, and instead are heading back to qualifying school. Including Tom Lewis, who made a run at The Open a few years ago.

The main issue appears to be the divide between purse size in the seven Rolex events versus typical European Tour weeks.

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Reader Comments (11)

Lawrenson is onto something 'big' here. I attended the second stage of qualifying for the European Tour last week at what I consider 'one of the best golf courses in Spain' - Las Colinas de Campoamor in Alicante. The standard of golf played at the top end was stunning. It really would make you wonder how good you have to be to make it and establish yourself these days? It seems to me that the ET needs to beef up the purses on their Challenge Tour by spreading the Rolex riches around. Otherwise the rich will keep getting richer and the poor won't even be able to afford to buy a golf ball. The value of fostering youth golf is exaggerated. If golf becomes too much of a young man's game, and it is definitely heading in that direction, it won't augur well for its own long term future. Golf has always been an 'old man's game' and a game for a lifetime - if that changes too much I would be very pessimistic about the future.
11.14.2017 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
Ivan-I agree-I reffed at Panoramica. The standard is very high indeed. bit of a Catch 22 situation.
11.14.2017 | Unregistered Commenterchico
I think there is a bit of a battle going on for the second tier of professional golf. Feels like the PGA Tour has taken a clearly dominant position with many top flight Europeans choosing it as their home. Also seems the European Tour has overextended with the Rolex Series.

I think the natural evolution will be an elite level tour in the mold of what Greg Norman envisioned. Purses in the $5M - $10M vicinity for 20 - 25 events.

The second tier will be an international Tour comprising of the guys on below the Top 60 or 80 in the world. Purses in the $3 - $5 neighborhood.

A developmental Tour that feeds the base TOur but would comprise of the guys bouncing back and forth between USPGA/Web.Com or EuroPGA/Challenge plus Aussies, Asian Tour etc...

Below that, the PGA TOur has established partnerships with several regional developmental tours. Not sure how the finances work, but a natural escalating hierarchy will prevail in my opinion.
11.14.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJS
There are too many guys chasing too few spots. Happens in all sports but most other sports have a shorter window. Golf allows the "chasers" to dream longer and get in more debt trying to break through. It is a tough way to make a living if you don't have the money to back you. Also the current equipment makes it harder to separate yourself from everyone. I am happy I was never good enough at any sport to delude myself into chasing it as a career. Even if you are talented enough it is tough. Jordan Spieth failed at Q school...
11.14.2017 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
Newtons third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

It doesn't work exactly that way in golf... But when it comes to golf scheduling, sometimes the "reaction" is unequally harsh... as illustrated above.

The PGA Tour in effect "bundling" it's top players into 12-13 common events (4 majors, Players, 4 WGC & 4 playoff events) has had an effect as well... just not quite as severe. PGAT has "decent" alternate purses to the WGC's and solid $6-7+ million purses in their other regular events. Plus the playoffs are after "players earning cards" has already been settled. So the PGAT graduates about 40% of their "Webbies" compared to only 10% of ET Q-schoolers....
11.14.2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobopz
Neither Web.com or Challenge tours are providing the most for their governing bodies. Maybe these "secondary tours" should join forces. The wider variety of scenery could be more interesting for fans, and more valuable for players and sponsors.
11.14.2017 | Unregistered CommenterFC
There may only be one guy in the Dubai field who got to the European Tour from the qualifier but there is a guy who was on the Challenge Tour to begin the season and earned his way to Dubai the hard way, Julian Suri.
11.14.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGarry Smits
Web.com and champions tour exist due to subsidies from PGA Tour INC

If they had to play for what they actually generated they couldn't survive.

To me, Web.com subsidy makes sense to help develop players. Champions subsidies are just
padding retirements more
11.14.2017 | Unregistered CommenterP Thomas
Where are my clothes?
11.14.2017 | Unregistered CommenterThe Emperor
A few thoughts on this issue:

Seems to me that if they reduced the number of Q School cards to 15 (+ties) and reshuffled the Q School and Challenge Tour graduates together, it might help solve this problem.

I see they announced that the Access List will not be used next year; I don't imagine that'll help the Q School grads.

Another factor worth noting: sponsor exemptions. In 2016, Q School grads received 25 in total. Of these, Edoardo Molinari got nine and Paul Dunne got six, while sixteen players received zero. This year, only 10 exemptions were given, to only six different grads. Perhaps the European Tour should follow the PGA Tour's lead and restrict two sponsor exemptions in every tournament to graduates?
11.14.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhi13
Heres another idea the ET instead of handing out random exemptions and agents buying spots - they offer 4 spots and have a Monday Qualifying with a purse
11.15.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBiGGUY

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