The PGA Tour is in preliminary discussions to take over the European Tour due to the latter's financial struggles, two British newspapers reported Tuesday.
Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer of The European Tour, and Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour Commissioner, refuted the The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph reports, which quoted European Tour player Paul Casey -- who is also a member of the PGA Tour -- in stressing the European Tour's big-picture challenges.
"There are so many good things about the European Tour and it can be such an unbelievable product given the places we go to, and the players we have," said Casey, also a prominent member of the European Tour's Tournament Players Committee, according to the Telegraph. "But we are so far from maximizing what we have and we need to freshen things up."
Finchem said in a statement that reports of the PGA Tour making an offer for the European Tour "are inaccurate."
He said integration of professional golf is a good thing for players and fans.
"These conversations among the Tours within the Federation will continue as we explore additional collaborative efforts for the presentation of our game," he said. "To the extent any of those efforts prove feasible, additional information will be provided at that time."
Waters acknowledged the uphill climb but denied a pending PGA Tour takeover.
"The golf market in Europe is significantly smaller than in the United States, hence The European Tour's expansive policies throughout the world over the past 16 years, which includes co-operation with the U.S. PGA Tour in the World Golf Championships arena," Water said in a statement. "However, the notion that the U.S. PGA Tour is somehow bidding to buy The European Tour is incorrect."
Casey said the European Tour needed "some new energy."
"Look at the fact we've just announced on our website that we've appointed a global search firm to find a new chairman, when the last one, Neil Coles, retired in May," Casey said, according to the Telegraph's report. "Why on earth would that simple step take three months? There are some incredibly talented people in the world of business who are already involved in golf and would love to be our chairman.
"It's important we get the right one, and they can dictate what happens right down the line. This is the time for change as it's a great opportunity we're missing."
Whether the PGA Tour would be interested in such an expansion has been the subject of some debate. At times over the past few years, there have been questions about a world tour of some fashion, and given the growth of the game in Asia and the prominence of players outside of the United States, the idea has credence for some.
But the PGA Tour has no trouble attracting players or sponsors as an exclusive entity. Only seven players among the top 50 in the world are not full members of the tour, and prominent European Tour players such as Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia play the PGA Tour full-time.
The PGA Tour has also made its own inroads into Asia with fully sanctioned events in Malaysia and China. It has also taken over the Canadian Tour and has a presence in South America as a feeder tour for aspiring pros.
Starting in October, for the first time, the PGA Tour will go to a wraparound schedule with events in the fall -- including the tournaments in Malaysia and China -- counting toward the 2013-14 FedEx Cup.
And it has secured television rights deals with CBS, NBC and Golf Channel through 2021.
Acquiring the European Tour, however, would be an opportunity for the PGA Tour to gain a financial stake in the lucrative Ryder Cup, which is now shared by the European Tour and the PGA of America, an entity separate from the PGA Tour that runs the PGA Championship.
Both newspapers noted the disparity in prize money on the PGA Tour and European Tour by using the 100th player on the money list as an example. On the European Tour, Richard Bland has earned just more than $270,000, while on the PGA Tour, Martin Kaymer has made about $785,000.