January 25, 2020 / 10:47 PM / 5 months ago

Golf: Proposed Premier Golf League to feature 48 players and 18 tournaments

(Reuters) - The British-based World Golf Group (WGG) has finally publicly unveiled its plan for a new global tour that would comprise 18 yearly tournaments featuring 48 of the game’s top players.

Nearly two years after Reuters first reported the group’s plans, the Premier Golf League (PGL) hopes to launch in January, 2022, it said in a detailed news release on Saturday.

Each tournament would have prize money of $10 million.

Whether the tour is feasible remains to be seen on an already-crowded calendar.

The PGL said it wanted to work with established tours rather than as a breakaway circuit, but the U.S.-based PGA Tour and European Tour have been all but dismissive about the proposed circuit.

“We don’t comment on the business of other tours, real or hypothetical. We’re focused on our business,” the PGA Tour said in a statement to Reuters.

The European Tour has been similarly dismissive.

The PGA Tour has a policy in which players must seek a “release” from the commissioner each time they want to play an event on anything other than their home tour.

This effectively restricts American players to a handful of international appearances a year.

Top players already have at least six must-play events each season — the Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, British Open, Players Championship and either the Ryder or Presidents Cup.

‘REVITALIZE THE SPORT’

No players have publicly committed to the proposed tour, though Rory McIlroy said on Saturday discussions with players had been going on for years.

“Those guys have been talking to a few of us for six years,” the Northern Irishman told reporters at the Farmers Insurance Open.

“It’s a hard one ... but I love the PGA Tour, I love the way golf is set up right now. I certainly wouldn’t want to lose what’s been built in the last 40 or 50 years, tournaments like this.

“I’m still quite a traditionalist, so to have that much of an upheaval in the game I don’t think is the right step forward.

“But I think it might be a catalyst for some changes on this tour that can help it grow and move forward and reward the top players the way they should be.”

Despite the obstacles, the PGL sounded upbeat about its chances of getting off the ground.

Its statement said the tour would be “an individual and team league” with 12 teams of four players vying for a world championship.

Ten of the 18 events would be in the United States. All would be three rounds with no cut.

The PGL said the current professional structure is outdated.

“If you want the world to watch, you have to showcase your best product, week-in-week-out. Golf doesn’t do that currently,” it said.

“If you had the chance to start again you wouldn’t create professional golf as it exists today. The League is that chance.

“We believe we’ll succeed because the League is what fans, sponsors and broadcasters want — and the best players deserve. It will revitalize the sport for this and future generations.”

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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