Martin Kaymer has officially become the latest European take up membership on the PGA Tour in 2013.
The 27-year-old, who captured his first major title at the 2010 PGA Championship, joins what seems like an ever-growing list of players choosing to jump over to this side of the Atlantic in pursuit of higher purses, more lucrative endorsement deals, better practice weather and of course, the opportunity to escape a European recession that is showing no signs of waning any time soon.
The PGA Tour’s new qualifying system would have also played at least some role in player’s decision to take up membership now before the door slams shut in 2014.
Peter Hanson (Sweden), Nicolas Colsaerts (Belgium) and David Lynn (Great Britain) have all decided to take up PGA Tour membership as well in 2013.
This latest influx of Europeans will join the likes of Rory McIlory, Luke Donald, Greame McDowell, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia, who are already members of the PGA Tour.
Virtually all of these players still retain their European Tour membership, which is a requirement in order to be eligible for the European Ryder Cup team. But a vast majority of these European imports now spend much of their time in America playing a schedule consisting of mostly PGA Tour events.
The European Tour now faces a two-fold problem:
1. It is facing an unprecedented financial crisis that has already cost it tournaments and sponsors and will likely cost it more tournaments moving forward.
2. Virtually all of its top stars have jumped ship and taken up membership on the PGA Tour. They will still play a number of events in Europe, but they will more than likely not become “full-time” members of the European Tour again anytime soon.
One bright spot moving forward for the European Tour is that the PGA Tour’s closed-door qualifying process may actually transform the European Tour into a more attractive option to talented young international players looking to move up in the world of golf.
Starting in 2014, the PGA Tour will force players to go through Q-School just to earn a Web.com Tour card. Players will then need to finish within the top 75 on the Web.com Tour’s money list in order to earn a spot in a four-tournament series containing both Web.com and PGA Tour players. The top-50 finishers from this four-tournament series will then earn their PGA Tour cards for the following season.
Heck, an international golfer would have an easier time getting U.S. citizenship than a PGA Tour card in 2014 and beyond, which may just result in an influx of young talent to the European and Asian Tours some time down the road.
But, that is a “may happen,” which is of little solace to the European Tour right now as it watches one star after another high-tail it across the Atlantic to the shores of the exponentially more lucrative PGA Tour.