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Stephen Gallacher column: PGA Tour and European Tour alliance news has set tongues wagging

Crowds gathered to watch the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in 2019, one of the biggest events on the European Tour.
How will the alliance between the PGA Tour and European Tour benefit professional golf?

I would love to be able to tell you what the announcement of a strategic alliance between the PGA Tour and the European Tour means for the professional game, but like you I’m waiting for more details.

I attended a players’ committee meeting last Tuesday and the subject did not come up, but any time the European Tour and PGA Tour can work together has to be a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

I expect we’re looking at some sort of alignment between the tours, but whether it leads to co-sanctioned events or increased purses or ranking points remains to be seen.

It is no secret the PGA Tour and European Tour have been talking about forging better links and the players will be wanting to know what the alliance means in real terms. By that I mean what playing opportunities will there be, will there be more ranking points to play for and will the tournament prize funds be altered in any way?

The ranking points and prize funds on offer on the PGA Tour are two of the reasons why Rory McIlroy bases himself across the Atlantic, instead of on the European Tour. Due to those two factors, the fields are stronger and when you add in the fact you are pretty much playing in one country for most of the season it is an attractive proposition.

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, tees off on the third hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, in Augusta, Ga.
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, tees off on the third hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, in Augusta, Ga.

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley and his staff have done a fantastic job in keeping our tour going this year despite all the problems Covid-19 has presented for the game.

I don’t think it would be a stretch to assume the coronavirus has pushed a possible alliance further up the agenda for both the PGA Tour and European Tour. The idea has been kicked about for a few years, especially since talk of a rival world tour gathered steam.

I don’t know if this announcement will kill that idea off once and for all, what form the new alliance will take or when it will come into force.

But I can assure you it has set tongues wagging in the locker room.

Gilbert move a huge coup for the game

Martin Gilbert.
Martin Gilbert.

I have no idea who has talked Martin Gilbert into taking on the role of chairman of Scottish Golf in March but whoever pulled it off deserves a medal.

It is an unbelievable move and one which has, to no surprise, been met with universal praise. It’s not hard to see why.

What Martin has done via his businesses and personally to support Scottish golf over the decades is incredible.

From supporting foundations such as my own, to the amateur game, professionals and even staging international tournaments for men and women, it is remarkable.

He is an astute businessman and a figure in this country who is comfortable liaising with everyone, from fans and players to government figures.

That’s why am I genuinely chuffed to bits to see him getting involved in Scottish Golf.

The organisation has had its critics in recent years, justifiably so, and it is clear barriers have built up between the board and golf clubs.

I know at club level one of the major gripes has been the belief there has been a lack of communication from those charged with running the game and that is why the arrival of someone such as Martin is being welcomed with open arms.

He is a unifier and a man with an excellent reputation in the business world and in golf.

If his arrival leads to more structure and a clear plan in place then it will go a long way to mending the bridges between the member clubs and the body.

Scotland is the home of golf.

We’re in a unique position and we should be shouting from the rooftops about the fantastic courses we have here and the wonderful opportunities we can provide to play on some of the best venues in the world.

I know, above all else, Martin will want to make a real difference.

He is a passionate supporter of golf and a man with his finger on the pulse who no doubt will be arriving with ideas on how he can make an impact on the organisation and in turn grow the game.

I cannot see his imminent arrival being anything other than a hugely positive step for the game in Scotland.

Scots lads in form ahead of Dubai test

It was a good week for some of the Scottish lads at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa.

Scott Jamieson and Bob MacIntyre both finished tied for sixth place while Calum Hill was joint 13th.

Bob’s great finish keeps him ticking along nicely as we reach the closing weeks of the European Tour season and he is here with me at Jumeirah Golf Estates for the Golf in Dubai Championship which gets under way today.

Oban's Robert MacIntyre.
Oban’s Robert MacIntyre.

Danny Willett, Matt Wallace and Martin Kaymer are among the favourites and it should be a cracking four days.

I’ve played the earth course before, but not the fire course, where this week’s tournament is held.

The Greg Norman-designed course is in great condition and there isn’t much rough. With the weather forecast very nice for the week ahead I expect the scoring to go quite low.

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