Fabrizio Zanotti was waiting to hear where he would be this week.
Finished 38th on the DP World Tour and was on the verge of qualifying for the Genesis Scottish Open. But as of last summer, the affiliation between the PGA Tour and the DP Tour meant he had a spot in the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship, nearly 4,000 miles away in Nicholasville, Ky., if he didn’t make it to the Scottish Open.
Zanotti, who is from Paraguay, wasn’t complaining. “It’s really good,” he said. “The partnership is nice for us here in Europe to have the opportunity to get there.”
Just a few months ago, the PGA Tour and the European Tour, which oversees the DP World Tour, formed an alliance that seemed fruitful. After competing for players for several decades, the tours came together in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic and by November 2020 they had established a partnership.
Last August, the tours announced they were co-hosting three events: the Scottish Open and Barbazol, which runs Thursday through Sunday, and the Barracuda Championship next week in Reno, Nev., opposite the British Open.
This meant that players on the PGA and DP World Tours could compete in any event if they were ranked high enough to qualify. But mostly it meant that if they didn’t make it to the Scottish or British Opens, they would have the huge consolation prize of playing less. tournaments on the more prestigious PGA Tour.
When the deal was announced in August, it was heralded as a sign of increased cooperation between the tours and was marketed as a benefit to both tour members.
“With us having three events this year, we’re no longer fighting for the best players,” Keith Pelley, European Tour commissioner, said in an interview earlier this year.
“Everything has changed since November 2020. It was a mindset shift for both of our organizations to work as closely together as possible and share all aspects of our business. We have turned from competitors to partners.”
Those were the days. That alliance is being publicly and politically tested by the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour. The high-dollar invitational series has jolted the PGA and DP World Tour players and sent the more established tours scrambling to make changes.
The winner of the first event took home $4 million, but guaranteed money for all players, including last-place finisher Andy Ogletree, who won the 2019 US Open. The LIV event in the United States, in Pumpkin Ridge, Oregon, casts doubt on his professional future.)
For golfers trying to climb the rankings and play in tournaments, money certainly matters, but what matters most are the official World Golf Ranking scores. This is what determines how much control players have over their schedule.
“There’s a lot of opportunities to play in the mix,” said Maverick Antcliffe, who played in college at Augusta State University in Georgia and is ranked No. 171 on the DP Tour. “If you have a good week in the reverse field event, you have a chance to go to the U.S. That’s the prospect I want to go to. This strategic alliance has given us a clearer path.”
Before the alliance, players in Europe received invitations to the PGA Tour and the majors by finishing in the world’s top 50 – not just on a particular tour – or qualifying for the US or British Open through them. qualification process. The strategic alliance gave talented but lower-ranked players the opportunity to compete on the PGA Tour and possibly finish high enough to gain more control over their schedule.
While it poses larger, existential questions for professional golf, it has more practical weekly implications for players trying to qualify for tournaments like the Scottish Open. Will LIV Golf survivors who are eliminated from events give other players a chance to compete? And it’s another way players question whether they have a place in events after staying committed to the tour they played on.
The answers are not clear. One, two tours are structured differently. The PGA Tour is a non-profit. The European Tour is essentially a reunion of its members. So their punishments differed because their members seem to have a say.
Jay Monaghan, the PGA Tour commissioner, threatens to suspend or ban players who go on the LIV tour (several players, such as Dustin Johnson and Kevin Na, drop their memberships after moving to the LIV).
Peli, the European Tour commissioner, had to take a different tack with his players: they were fined $120,000 for playing in the first LIV event in London and banned from three co-sanctioned events. Pablo Larrasabal and Oliver Becker paid their fines and returned to the European Tour at the recent Horizon Irish Open.
Yet the LIV Tour, which aims to challenge existing tours, does so at the cost of future players. Consider Ogletree, who struggled on the PGA Tour but had US Amateur Championship status to regain. The question now remains what his escape from the LIV Tour will mean for his professional career.
Quick Guide to the LIV Golf Series
New series. The launch of the new Saudi-sponsored LIV Golf Series has reignited long-standing questions about the athletes’ moral obligations and their desire to compete and earn money. Here’s what you need to know:
In late June, the tours announced a major upgrade to their partnership. Among them is the PGA Tour increasing its stake in the European Tour to 40 percent from 15 percent, which will result in more prize money on the DP World Tour. It also gives players on that tour a route to the PGA Tour, with the top 10 European players at the end of the season earning playing privileges in the United States.
“Having the DP World Tour and these players on board will only help expand our tournament and it’s great for our sponsor, Barracuda Networks,” said Chris Hoff, tournament director of the Barracuda Championship, noting that the DP World Tour will feature 50 players. Plus 106 from the PGA Tour.
“There are a lot of guys who want to come. This is a mid-range tournament when it comes to the number of Race to Dubai points available in addition to the cash purse.
These points are important, and since none of the players who went on the LIV tour can participate in three co-ed events this season, it gives other players who stayed on the tours a chance.
For a player like Antcliffe, whose world ranking of 550 sometimes makes it difficult to get into tournaments, alternative field events offer hope. “It’s nice for me when there’s an event and you have the opportunity to play in the same week,” he said. “It’s a long season. Your best week is right around the corner. It’s another opportunity to play a PGA Tour event.
The joint sanctioning changes have not been good for all tournaments. The recent John Deere Classic would be played opposite the Scottish Open. It was famously famous for having a plane waiting to fly the winner to the British Open.
Zanotti will play at the Scottish Open this week. However, he was scheduled to play in the Barracuda Championship on the PGA Tour next week, but a fourth-place finish at the Irish Open led him to the British Open.
“It’s not very easy to get through the world rankings to play on the PGA Tour if you’re not a top-50 player,” said Zanotti, who has a world ranking of 237. “So I think it’s great to have those two opportunities. . You can always win or have a good week.”