Find Form In July, Buy A Rolex In August. 

I’ve wrestled with myself over posting this blog. I hope my wording is sufficient enough to make it obvious I am not bitter or twisted about what follows. And it goes without saying that any names mentioned in this blog isn’t me attacking them, it’s simply me using them as examples of what I believe injustice looks like. 

The Rolex Series. 

I’ll start with France. I played the French Open this year. I qualified for it as part of category 0 something. That category was ‘the top 3 players on Race to Dubai, who aren’t exempt.’ I was third on that list, so I got a place. I was intrigued arriving at Golf National to see what would be different in 2017 than every other year I’ve played it. It turned out the players lounge was about it. Not to forget the purse of course. My breakfast options had been upgraded however. I could now go for eggs on top of Marmite on toast, which is a personal favourite, followed by Nutella on toast topped with a banana. A great way to start any day. Apart from these two things however, the rest of the experience was exactly as I remember any past French Open being. The crowds were like before; decent, but more atmosphere at the British Par 3 Championship. The course was fantastic as always. The 18th hole was still a bastard. All that was truly different was that, A) I actually had a decent finish, and B) I earned €64,000 for finishing Tied 23rd. Twice as much as I earned in Sweden for coming Tied 8th. 

I was a TV viewer for the Irish Open. I requested an invite and couldn’t believe I didn’t get one after I mentioned in my letter the fact I’m half Irish with 73 cousins so the gate receipts would be boosted if I was part of the event. But hey ho. I thought Portstewart looked stunning. I love so much about Ireland, both North and South. The story of the week for me was Matt Southgate. Matt is a top lad, with a heart of gold. I was delighted to see him get an Open spot at Cinque Ports and continue that form in Northern Ireland. Tied 2nd was a great result. Something I managed in 2015. And then I saw the prize money breakdown and realised that you could win three €1 Million events, and not earn as much money as Matt did for coming Tied 2nd. Now having finished Tied 2nd myself at an Irish Open not long ago, I know which is tougher, and it isn’t the Tied 2nd part. It’s the winning three €1 Million events. This wouldn’t be a big issue if the rankings weren’t solely down to money, but they are, even though it says points. Because up until the final three events, the points do correlate to money earned. 

The Scottish Open unfortunately I didn’t get to watch much of. Again though, like the Irish Open, the story of the week to many was another British player Callum Shinkwin. I didn’t see what happened on the 72nd hole but whether he won or not, whichever way you look at it, it was a great result for Callum. As I referred to in a tweet, I played with him in France on Day Four. He shot eighty something and was clearly devoid of confidence and any sort of ball control. But it was obvious he had potential as he has a lot of speed. Anyway, after his 2nd place finish, I noticed he vaulted up the Race to Dubai into 19th position. So I went over to the PGA Tour website to check out who was occupying 19th spot on that Tour, and take a look at their results. Sergio Garcia actually occupies that spot currently. He won a major which I thought may distort my point a bit, so I looked at 20th- Wesley Bryan. He’s won once this year, had 3 other top 5’s, and 1 other top 10. Callum’s season consists of one 2nd place finish and 2 top 30’s. At this point, I want to reiterate what I said at the top, this isn’t an attack on Callum. I was delighted for him. I’m trying to prove another point; that this Rolex Series has distorted the Race to Dubai like something you’d see in a Tim Burton film. 

From what I understand, one of Keith Pelley’s tasks was to produce bigger prize funds to attract the better players. He’s clearly done this, although some notable top players haven’t even shown up for one of the Rolex Series events yet so I’m still to be persuaded that this will work. Either way, no doubt playing for bigger prize funds is one way to attract certain players. My concern is not only about what’s just played out, but also, with the PGA Tour planning on turning every ‘regular’ event into a $10 Million prize fund, where does this leave the European Tour? I think it leaves it stifled again in the same way as before, but this time around, distorted as seen above with the disparity between players earnings enormous, and not indicative of true season form. 

I will stand up for Keith Pelley at this point though and say that an alternative to this is hardly forthcoming. It’s clear that the Tour has moved towards a ‘top player’ policy. This isn’t good or bad, I have no preference. But as with every policy enforced in the world, there are unintended consequences. And I think these are embarrassing as we see them now. The Access List is something that simply had to be done. If you are a Qualifying School graduate like myself, and didn’t happen to have a good week at a Major like myself, it would appear the Access List is likely your only chance of retaining ‘full’ playing privileges next year. To those who question this, I’ll point you to Laurie Canter who this year has played for a combined total of roughly €13 Million Euros. Compare that to somebody who has missed every €1 Million event or below in Europe and not travelled once to South Africa, but who has played the rest, and you have roughly €46 Million being played for. This is minus majors and WGC’s also. 

I’m personally quite staggered at these numbers. 

To finish, as I said at the top, nothing against anybody mentioned above, I just felt some facts had to be highlighted. This isn’t me complaining either, those who know me will tell you that I’m not some raging communist who wants unadulterated equality, I want struggle and I want competition, it’s what separates us. But what I see above is taking those things a little too far. I’m personally quite pessimistic as to the outlook for the Tour, not down to anything Keith can or is doing, more to do with where I see the global economy heading, but I’m a golfer and I should stick to what I do best. And that’s walking my dog. 

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19 Responses to Find Form In July, Buy A Rolex In August. 

  1. Matty Ash says:

    Great blog as usual Ed, thanks for the insight

  2. Peter Crabtree says:

    On point as usual young fella. Big dosh is great but as you say there needs to be a bit of balance. Perhaps the Rolex events should see points reduced from money?

  3. Jim says:

    This is spot on. I am not sure the Rolex Series works. And why do we want people showing up jsut for the money?? It is the Irish Open, it is the Scottish Open. History, links. What idiot wouldn’t want to play and win those?? Regardless of the prize money. And the prep work benefit for the Open. The European Tour is much more interesting than the PGA Tour. More interesting players, more interesting courses and locations. The PGA Tour is more boring than watching grass grow. But should certain events cause it to be more difficult for a great up and coming player maintain his card? This distortion should be solved. Maybe it should be based on points based on strength of field rather than money? The European Tour has star power every week. The “Big Names” rubbish is overrated. Every single player on the European Tour is as interesting and as good as the “big names”. Look at the character of the players on the ET vs the PGA Tour. I’ll take the European Tour every day of the year!!

  4. ZB says:

    It will be a while before Rolex give you a free watch 🙂

  5. I agree Eddie, but I’m not as kind as you are to the Pelley regime. I see him as a showman twat, with a high profile that he has still to earn. The Rolex series can only work if entry privileges are thrown as wide as possible. Current policy appears to be to achieve this by reducing the number of Tour professionals and thus shrinking, rather than growing, opportunities for emerging talent.

  6. Michael Joseph says:

    Eddie. Very well said. As it happens I follow Lee Slattery; he has played he the French (missed cut) the Irish and the Scottish recently
    For 30th in the Irish he got 49949 points and for 9th in the Scottish he got 111577. These have moved him to 100th on Race to Dubai from 170. All good I guess except his previous best was 11th in the Rocco Forte Open for which he got 15614 (points and euros)
    If the tour isn’t careful the Rolex series will become the European Tour and everything else will become like the Championship in football. With only 100 players keeping cards this year there is a danger that the backbone of the European Tour will lose their playing rights as the stars split their time between the US tour and the Rolex series.

  7. Kim says:

    I am in the US and love watching the European tour events early in the morning! Also, enjoy reading your blog! Good luck the rest of the season. Now I need to go out and walk my dog!

  8. Hugh Smith says:

    Eddie. Not only are you building an alternative career in writing and other media work, based on this you could become a diplomat! As you know I have followed you since your amateur days, and many others that performed well as amateurs at FHGC in the English 4 years ago. There are so many good players out there, and the margins between success and failure are so small. Every player has good weeks and bad, but if you are a top player then you get in the big money events far more easily. If you play a few big tournaments well it is much easier to keep your card. As someone who has used statistics in business for most of my life, it is obvious the existing system is skewed and unfair. It shouldn’t be difficult to develop a “fairer” system rather than just using the crude measure of money won. The ET really need to look closely at this and help newcomers coming through from the Challenge tour or tour school. They really need more “big money” starts than are available with the current system. In my view a system where people who won a “big money” event got twice as many points as someone winning a “small event” would seem fairer. However it would need some detailed analysis going back over a few years to validate this view.

  9. Richard Shaw says:

    Hi Eddie – a good read as always, but when you say you’re worried about the future of the global economy, can you elaborate a bit more on your wider vision?

    Richard

  10. Richard Grime says:

    Love your blog as usual Eddie but I must say the golf at the Irish and Scottish Open’s wad fantastic TV. Sure it may not be very fair to the average tour player but I think that Keith Pelley is right. Got to attract the big names. Everything follows this.

  11. Note sure the best you can do is Walk your Dog 😉 Note: The French Open Village setting was much friendly last year, the Irish course was more fun this year and the Scottish no club house to watch historical trophies room… Beside that, competition still has tough as ever… with or without Rolex.

  12. David Flynn says:

    I suppose the real answer is play better in the comps your in, win more money and get invited to the all the top comps. Then you’ll get invited to play the PGA and earn really big money! But only if you accept the invite. I follow you on twitter and read your blogs with interest,keep loving your dog, but start loving golf more while your young enough to follow your dreams.
    Good luck Eddie from an ageing golfer who wished he started playing many years ago 👍🏌️😎

  13. Always entertaining & a good read even if I’m not totally aux fait with what your are talking about as is the case with blog. The last couple of lines were a real clincher. ‘Stick to what I’m best at. Walking my dog.’ 🙂

  14. Tim says:

    I agree with Eddie & also what was said by Jim , these big money events should at least look after players in the top 100 /110 of the R2D at tournament time with remaining spots been made up of inviites etc…..

  15. Peter Hume says:

    Sorry Eddie,
    I do not agree with your reasoning on the prize money.It is obvious that the major names on the US PGA tour are reluctant to come to. Europe and The. Rolex evevrs are a determined effort to attract them.If you want the money increased lower down the prize list the big names will not come.The big names are all known as gamblers and they are only interested in winning ,they all expect to win and collect the top prize.The money for the ‘also rans’ will only increase if the tour attracts the big names on a regular basis.Good viewing this week !

  16. Lee Faulkner says:

    Love your insight Eddie. Never change

  17. Ken Bowditch says:

    A very interesting blog, as usual. The whole question of prize money in Golf and other sports gives rise to a variety of views by the sportsmen and sportswomen involved and also the thousands who watch live and on TV. A case in point is Wimbledon where a first round loser pockets 35,000 pounds and a second round loser (missing the cut) in the Open gets Zilch. Then comes the Premier League footballers…………………..

  18. dominique vouge says:

    thank you Eddie for your accurate and interesting blog
    do you mean that the fed ex cup system is fairer, with the points disconnected of the money?
    it would be more correct to give 250 points for an average tournament, and 500 for a rolex serie, even if the dotation is much more important
    there would be less distorsion in the ranking, and the top players would get their money.

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