Euro Tour Toughens Membership Rules

October 01, 2008

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) -- The European Tour will require its members to play in at least 12 events next year, increasing the minimum by one event as more players contemplate whether to join for the $10 million Race to Dubai.

The tour's Tournament Committee voted for the change Tuesday.

Phil Mickelson is among those who might join in 2009 when the tour season concludes with the top 60 players eligible for the Dubai World Championship. A separate $10 million in bonus money will be awarded, similar to the FedEx Cup on the U.S. tour.

The four major championship and three World Golf Championships -- six of which are held in the United States -- count toward the minimum 12 for European tour membership. Mickelson has played the Scottish Open the last few years, and he is expected to play the French Open next summer. He also is scheduled to play the HSBC Champions in China in November, which starts Europe's '09 season.

Thomas Bjorn, chairman of a committee that consists of current and former players, said it was not asking players too much to compete 12 times to retain membership, noting that the four majors and three WGCs count toward the total.

"It was never a big ask," Bjorn said. "It was just time to change."

British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington said he felt the number should remain at 11 to encourage American players to join the European Tour.

"I think it would strengthen our tour if they came," he said. "If we could attract players like Phil and Vijay (Singh), it is basically a bigger pot for everybody. We have attracted the best players from South Africa, Australia and Asia, but we have never had an inflow from the U.S. Tour."

Tiger Woods has said he does not plan to take up European tour membership.