News & ToursNovember 9, 2010

European star forgoes PGA Tour: News, but not new

A European star decides against playing the PGA Tour: An indictment of the PGA Tour and its commissioner or business as usual?

Here is the first paragraph from a New York Times' story published June 14, 1989 -- more than 21 years ago:

"Seve Ballesteros walked out of a meeting today with Deane Beman, commissioner of the PGA Tour, and claimed Beman had refused to consider proposals to allow foreign members of the Tour to play fewer than the minimum of 15 tournaments a year."

Later in the story: ''Beman refused everything,'' Ballesteros said. ''He refused our proposal for 12 or so tournaments. He refused to consider players being allowed on the American Tour according to achievement. He refused to have a referendum of all of the American PGA Tour players to see if they would vote for us. He refused everything. I left.''

Ballesteros, who ended 1988 as No. 1 in the World Ranking, never did rejoin the PGA Tour (he was a member only in 1984), which continues to maintain its 15-tournament minimum for membership.

Flash forward. On Monday, Rory McIlroy bemoaned the 15-tournament minimum: "At the end of the day, the FedEx Cup is really all about money and I was just playing in it this year to make up my mandatory 15 tournaments."

Putting aside the fact that most everything is all about money in professional golf (hence the number of the game's elite that turn out for events paying large appearance fees), McIlroy's decision is not unique. Nor is it an indictment on the PGA Tour and its commissioner, as some suggest.

It's simply an old story resurrected.

-- John Strege

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