SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A group trying to organize a new circuit of lucrative global golf tournaments said on Friday it wanted to work with the game’s established tours rather than be a rival.
The World Golf Group, responding to a report on the website www.geoffshackelford.com of golf journalist Geoff Shackelford that it was "making another fervent bid to lure top players away from the PGA and European Tours with plans to start in 2022 or 2023," issued a press release addressing the matter.
“There has been significant media speculation relating to our plans to launch The League, a new professional golf format that will be comprised of 18 events per season,” it said.
“While we do not wish to comment further at this time, we would like to say that it is our intention to work with, rather than challenge, existing tours for the betterment of golf as a sport, pastime and media property.”
The group said it was partnering in its venture with the Raine Group, a global merchant bank.
In 2018, Reuters reported that the World Golf Group was talking with many top players and agents about a new series of tournaments with prize money that would dwarf the amounts currently offered on the PGA Tour and European Tour.
The proposed events are expected to be team competitions between newly-established franchises.
Shackelford reported on Thursday that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan had spoken with players at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open about the potential pitfalls of the rival league.
“Sources say defectors would face complications related to the releases necessary to play in non-PGA Tour events and loss of eligibility in the Tour’s lucrative pension program, among other matters,” he wrote.
The PGA Tour declined to immediately comment to Reuters on the World Golf Group statement.
The viability of the proposed series perhaps depends on whether Tiger Woods is interested.
Though in the twilight of his career at the age of 44, the 15-times major champion remains by far the game’s leading drawcard, and he holds considerable clout with the PGA Tour, which knows it can ill-afford to alienate him.
World number 25 Rickie Fowler, one of the game’s most popular players, was non-committal about whether he would be interested in the proposed circuit.
“I’ve heard about it being thrown around,” Fowler told Reuters on Friday.
“We’re leaving a lot of stuff to the agents and (the PGA) Tour and stuff like that. We’ll learn more when the time comes but it’s not something I’m worried about right now.”
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Writing by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris