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Friday 20 April 2018

Stenson wary of new rules

European Tour to penalise players who miss home event

Henrik Stenson. Picture: Caren Firouz/REUTERS
Henrik Stenson. Picture: Caren Firouz/REUTERS

NEWLY-CROWNED European No 1 Henrik Stenson has given a guarded welcome to a new European Tour regulation requiring players to support their home events or be forced to play an extra two tournaments.

Players currently have to play a minimum of 13 tournaments for European Tour membership, but that will be increased to 15 for the 2014 season if they do not contest their national open or equivalent.

The move was approved by the European Tour's Tournament Committee last month, but comes in the wake of strong criticism from former Open champion Ernie Els over the demands placed on players.

Els was annoyed at the regulation which requires players to compete in two of the first three events of this year's inaugural Final Series to be eligible for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, won by Stenson on Sunday.

The South African did not fulfil that criteria, along with Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel, and was therefore not in Dubai as European Tour chief executive George O'Grady admitted that the amount of golf played by its star names had been "underestimated" and promised a comprehensive review of the format.

Stenson was planning on playing the Nordea Masters in Malmo next year anyway, but admits the clash with the Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus on the PGA Tour could pose problems in the future.

"I was scheduled to play regardless. I am going to play Wentworth (the BMW PGA Championship) as well next year so am making a trip back and playing two weeks in-a-row," said Stenson.

"It's obviously the tough thing with playing both in America and Europe that you can't travel however many times back and forth, but given the success I've had I would really want to come and play in front of my home crowds next year.

"Whether we need to have the rule or not, that could be debated, but I think to support the European Tour and your home tournaments it's definitely a good thing to do. At times it could be hard with the schedules. Sweden goes up against the Memorial so I can't play in Jack's tournament, one of the big ones on the PGA Tour, so we will see how it works out in the future."

Leading manager and tournament promoter Chubby Chandler feels the regulation is unnecessary and that the European Tour should do away with membership criteria, rather than adding to them.

 

Difficult

Chandler, who also described the Final Series as a "cock-up" recently, said: "I think they just make it difficult to be a member.

"They put all these things in to try to protect tournaments. I think enough golfers respect their home open or home tournament to not need something like that. They seem to try and make rules to prevent people being a member."

If a country stages more than three tournaments, players of that nationality will be required to play in at least two and Chandler added: "Fortunately it doesn't make a lot of difference for us (his management company ISM).

"Lee (Westwood) is always going to play the BMW, Charl (Schwartzel) and Louis (Oosthuizen) are always going to play two in South Africa; Joost Luiten is always going to play in Holland. But I don't know why they make rules to make it difficult."

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