European Tour set to make history with three back-to-back tournaments played in Florida
The European Tour is ready to make history by playing three back-to-back tournaments in Florida. If the emergency plans have to be actioned because of the pandemic, it will be the first time the circuit has ever hosted an event in the the previously off-limits United States. Officials at Wentworth HQ have had to move quickly and creatively to fill the void that will most likely be left because of the Covid-19 situation and restrictions on travelling to and from Spain and Portugal. The proposals are still being worked through, but it is understood that the respective parties have arrived at a solution that would have been unimaginable until the “strategic alliance” between the two main male tours was signed four months ago. Not only has the PGA Tour given their sanction to the prospective tournaments, but it is understood they first proposed the idea as they saw their new partners struggling with the schedule due to the ongoing crisis. Immediately after The Masters at Augusta, the Tour is down to visit Tenerife, Gran Canaria and the Algarve. But with Spain banning visitors from the UK and South Africa and with Portugal on the red list, the “elite athlete” exemption would not apply. On average, roughly a third of European Tour fields are made up by South African and UK pros, making it doubtful this trio of stops could justifiably go ahead. At the moment, the Tour is undergoing a frustrating four-week blank period of regular events and Keith Pelley, the wily chief executive, has made it his mission to give his membership ample opportunities. Last year, Pelley witnessed more than 20 tournaments being either cancelled or postponed because of coronavirus, but after a three-month hiatus, the resourceful Canadian was still able to compile a running order that featured 22 events until the end of the year, including a six-week “UK Swing”. It was a phenomenal achievement under the circumstances, but Pelley’s canniest bit of business undoubtedly came in December. With the Premier Golf League offering Pelley 10s of millions to lend its mooted World Tour series some credibility by sanctioning the first few events, Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner came in to buy a portion of its rivals media company – estimated to be more than £50m – and sign up to an agreement finally to co-operate with each other after decades of a fragmented global calendar. Monahan was invited on to the European Tour’s board and the benefits of the arrangement could soon pay off so rapidly and so welcomely for Pelley’s circuit. After this story appeared on the Telegraph Sport website on Monday afternoon, a memo was sent to all the players referencing this article and confirming that “our new partners at the PGA Tour have offered to help us in any way possible, which is a credit to them and visible evidence of the strength of our recently-announced Strategic Alliance”. It added: “It is very much only a possibility at this stage and is part of our continuing desire to investigate all avenues available to us if, in fact, our current schedule is not feasible due to continued travel restrictions for different sections of our membership.” Meanwhile, late on Sunday, Tiger Woods broke his silence following his car crash in LA last week, thanking all of his fellow pros for wearing his Sunday uniform in the final round of not only the WGC Workday Championship at The Concession, but also at the LPGA’S Gainbridge event at Lake Nona and on the PGA Tour’s seniors tournament. He said: “It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the TV and saw all the red shirts.” He went on to express his gratitude, saying: “To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time.” Woods, 45, remains in hospital in California starting his recovery from multiple surgeries on career-threatening injuries to his lower-right leg. He is hopeful of being able to return to his Florida home later this week.