The European Tour’s decision to schedule their biennial Eurasia Cup during the BMW SA Open sends out a strong message, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
This morning the European Tour tweeted – or at least that’s where I saw it – their team for the Eurasia Cup, formerly known as the Royal Trophy, and I was impressed. Fleetwood, Casey, Stenson, Hatton, Noren and Cabrera Bello are confirmed. So are Pieters, Fitzpatrick, Wiesberger, Levy, Dunne and Fisher.
It’s not unrealistic to expect that eight of those 12 will be Ryder Cup teammates in 2018.
And then I looked at the date and that’s where I turned angry.
The event will take place from 12-14 January 2018. What’s the problem? Well, as a South African reading this, you’ll know. The SA Open at Glendower is played that week, and it’s a co-sanctioned European Tour event. Charl, Branden, Brandon etc are all coming, but they won’t be joined by any of the 12 stars listed above.
Scheduling, especially in a Ryder Cup year must be very difficult, but what message is being sent out to the Sunshine Tour, SA golf fans and anyone interested in our national open? It’s big enough to be put on the European Tour, but it’s certainly not big enough to not be double-booked.
The Eurasia Cup will have a massive effect on the calibre of golfers that will arrive in South Africa – schedules are tight enough and the world ranking points on offer will be far lower, with many of Europe’s best not teeing it up at Glendower. Imagine what Henrik Stenson or Paul Casey’s appearance would’ve meant to our championship?
If you look at the events before The Masters, it’s clear that the Middle East swing won’t be double-booked, but the first two weeks of February – Maybank Championship in Malaysia and the Super 6 in Australia – do provide an alternative. Fans from those countries and subsequently journos would be typing out similar frustrations, so you can see the roundabout that this event proposes.
It will do wonders for Europe’s bid to win back the Ryder Cup in France, especially with the Americans finding their best team in two decades. The Eurasia Cup provides the players with added match play, foursomes and four balls experience in a competitive environment with combinations being tried and tested well before the teams are chosen and walk out to a packed first tee at Le Golf National in Paris.
Local golf has little in the way of rectification, but one idea that popped into my mind is trying to get Australia’s next best (look past Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Adam Scott) to South Africa (either before the Joburg Open, the SA Open or the Tshwane Open) for a six-on-six exhibition against our next best (Brandon Stone, Haydn Porteous, Dylan Frittelli, Dean Burmester, George Coetzee and Erik Van Rooyen for example).
These countries have a rich sporting rivalry and the favour could be returned at an appropriate event Down Under. That would certainly add some spark to local events and entice crowds to get down to the courses, and forget about Europe’s elite playing in a competition that shows little interest in others.