European Tour Ending Year On An Upbeat Note

Two pieces of news, while not shocking, should help new European Tour Chief Keith Pelley end the year with good news as the tour faces defections and a possible looming Ryder Cup headache if Paul Casey keeps up his resurgent play.

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship has pulled out the checkbook and landed Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth for the January 21-24 event. (Opposite the PGA Tour's CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta.) From the wires:

"I am looking forward to coming to Abu Dhabi, especially after Rickie told me about what a fantastic event it is," Spieth, 22, said.

"I love to travel and see the world and I am excited to not only play in the event but also check out Abu Dhabi for the first time."

James Corrigan says Pelley will announce a change in membership requirements which, while not technically changing the number of non-major, non-WGC events a star will have to play, helps those outside the Top 50 club justify maintaining their European Tour membership.

While this will not make much, if any, difference to the members in the world’s top 50 who also play on the PGA Tour, it could be helpful to those such as Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter, who are outside the top 50.

When he was in the same situation, Paul Casey found the two-Tour requirements too arduous and quit the European Tour. Despite rising back into the world’s top 25, Casey has still to rejoin his home circuit, meaning he is ineligible for the Ryder Cup. Pelley has been trying to persuade Casey to sign the forms and so make himself available for Darren Clarke’s side in Hazeltine next year.

Whether the latter of the two bits convinces Casey to reconsider is very much in doubt.