PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and European Tour chief operating officer Keith Waters say reports that the American tour wants to take over its European counterpart are incorrect, according to The New York Times.
However, while the reports in two British newspapers—The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph—may have been denied by the leaders of both tours, there appear to be significant reasons why both tours would want to partner up in the years to come.
It seems that the reports have some validity, but the timing of the British newspapers' reporting appears to have upset Finchem and Waters.
A merger between the two tours would appear to have significant financial benefit to both sides. The European Tour does not have the kind of capital backing that the American tour has, according to CBS Sports, and it's often difficult for European golfers to play consistently when purses don't compare with those of American tournaments.
By joining with the more stable PGA Tour, the European Tour would improve its ability to offer higher purses on a consistent basis.
The PGA Tour does not have the impact in Asia and other emerging markets that the European Tour has at this point. By merging or taking over the European Tour in a buyout, the PGA Tour would immediately have a much greater footprint in Asia than it does now.
While the PGA Tour is behind in that area in 2013, it may not always be in the position of No. 2. Since the PGA Tour has a stronger financial position than the European Tour, it could just allow market conditions to determine the future course of Asian golf in general—and Chinese golf in particular. If that happened, the PGA Tour may not need the European Tour's influence to become a major player of the game's development in Asia.
European golf tends to struggle in the weeks surrounding major golf tournaments in the United States. While PGA Tour golfers played for huge purses in the Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship, and will do the same in the Wyndham Championship this week, the European Tour has been dark.
European golfer Paul Lawrie told the Daily Telegraph that European golfers are currently quite frustrated with the state of the tour.
There are so many good things about the European Tour and it can it be such an unbelievable product given the places we go to, and the players we have. But we are so far from maximizing what we have and we need to freshen things up.
But a takeover or a merger of the two tours could have drawbacks as well. One is the clear identity that each tour has. When the Ryder Cup is contested every two years, the European Tour represents the European golfers while the PGA of America—a different entity from the PGA Tour—represents the American players.
If the PGA Tour took over both tours, it would run the entire Ryder Cup. While the competition would still be Europe vs. the United States, it might lack some of the passion that currently is a big part of the event.
It could be similar to what happened when the NFL merged with the American Football League in 1970. While the two sides kept their identities by calling themselves the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference, the pride of being identified as a member of one league or the other gradually disappeared.
Additionally, when the sport has two distinct organizations to push each other, advancements in the game are much more likely to continue. American golfers put more effort into winning when they have been trounced in the Ryder Cup while Europeans push back that much harder if American golfers win the British Open.
That kind of motivation could disappear if the PGA Tour took over the European Tour.
While leadership from both tours deny that a merger is afoot, there is simply too much money involved for both sides to run from it much longer.
That may not be the best thing for the competitive aspect of the sport, but it can certainly line the pockets of the executives and the players, and that's why it's likely to happen sooner or later.