BELEK, Turkey (Reuters) - U.S. Open champion Justin Rose is backing Tournament Committee chairman Thomas Bjorn to act as mediator in the disagreement between the players and the European Tour over the new FedExCup-style Final Series.
Last week former world number one Ernie Els described as “farcical” the rule that members must play in two of the three events leading up to the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in order to be eligible for the last of the four Final Series tournaments.
Els, who has been a member of the European circuit for almost two decades, said he would register his disapproval by skipping the $8 million season-ending event in Dubai.
Former U.S. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Ryder Cup stalwart Sergio Garcia have also said the regulations are asking too much of the players.
“This is the first time there has been this new system so I don’t think anything is set in stone,” world number five Rose told reporters on the eve of the inaugural $7 million Turkish Airlines Open being staged in the city of Antalya.
“Quite clearly the sweet spot has not been found. Thomas is a very good sounding board, I don’t want to call him the middle man but he acts really well between the players and the top executives of the tour.
“I think he has had quite a few conversations with guys in the last couple of weeks just to try and gauge where everybody’s head is at and to try and come up with a great solution.”
The Final Series, which consists of Turkey, Dubai and two big-money tournaments in Shanghai, is Europe’s equivalent of the U.S. PGA Tour’s lucrative FedExCup playoff system.
Rose, ever the diplomat, said he could see both sides of the argument between the tour and the players.
“You’ve got to try and play a schedule you feel is going to give you the best opportunity to play well when you want to play well and if that means pacing yourself, you pace yourself,” said the 33-year-old Briton.
“But I also understand the tour’s point of view in trying to incentivize guys and trying to create strong tournaments. They are asking sponsors to put up a lot of money and clearly they want a return on their investment.”
Rose is third in the European money-list with the two events to go, trailing leader Henrik Stenson by 325,000 euros ($436,600) and second-placed Graeme McDowell by 179,000 euros.
Swede Stenson, who picked up $11.4 million for winning the FedExCup and the season-ending U.S. Tour Championship, plays alongside Rose and world number one Tiger Woods in Thursday’s opening round but McDowell is an absentee this week.
First prize at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Belek is worth 848,930 euros and Rose said that emulating his 2007 order of merit triumph would represent the icing on the cake of a memorable season in which he won a major for the first time.
“Before I won the U.S. Open I would have said winning the order of merit was my career achievement and something I was very proud of,” said the Englishman.
“To have the opportunity to do it for the second time, in the modern era and in the new format, would be great.”
($1 = 0.7421 euros)
Editing by Sonia Oxley