Martin Kaymer, right, of Germany celebrates with his caddie Craig Connelly by the Wanamaker Trophy after Kaymer won in a playoff in the PGA Championship golf tournament Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010, at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — All the major professional golf tours across the globe agreed to halt play for the world’s best to compete in the 2016 Olympics.
Golfers can go for the gold.
Even the PGA of America agreed to move the PGA Championship to earlier in the calendar year.
“We all made commitments to adjust our schedules,” said PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka. “Bringing golf into the Olympics was a huge scheduling challenge, but it was an example that you have coordination among the tours that is still being worked out to add a new event that players from all tours will participate in.”
Such an agreement could be the conception of a permanent arrangement.
Defending PGA champion Martin Kaymer casually called it “the World Golf Tour” on Monday during a media day at Atlanta Athletic Club, site of this year’s final golf major Aug. 11-14.
He envisions, within a few years, one single tour for the best male golfers in the world — a merging of the PGA Tour, the European Tour and the Asian Tour, plus participation from Australia and Dubai.
“I think that if [PGA Tour commissioner] Tim Finchem and [European Tour chief executive] George O’Grady, if they get along and if they find a way to sit down maybe at one table with the Asian guys and the guys from Dubai, then I think they can do something huge which includes us [players],” said Kaymer, who is ranked No. 3 in the world. “I think eventually we will have that tour. It would lead to better players playing worldwide.”
Steranka is optimistic and can envision such a tour, but his personal experience provides a logistical perspective that Kaymer doesn’t have.
“Knowing how challenging it is to make changes in the schedules of all the tours around the world, there would be a heck of a lot work to do to make that happen,” Steranka said. “I speak from the experience of working on the World Golf Foundation board, which brought golf to the Olympics.”
Kaymer, who lives in Dusseldorf, Germany, is a member of the European Tour but plays in a few PGA Tour events based on his status within the top 50 of the golf rankings. He plays in all of the majors.
It’s a similar schedule to most of the top European players, such as Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.
“For me, it’s very important to play in the biggest tournaments in the world every year,” Kaymer said. “I play a lot in America because we have the World Golf Championship in Arizona, then in Florida, then the Masters. In the summertime, I pretty much go back to Europe and I’ll only come back for the majors.”
A World Golf Tour actually could increase his overall travel within a year. But the travel would have a flow of some sort. Perhaps starting in Hawaii, then Florida, the Masters, then to Western Europe and points further east, a stop in South Africa and then Asia. Kaymer mentioned the possibility of Russia as well.
“I would go a little bit with the weather and make sure we play everywhere in the world a little bit,” Kaymer said. “Even countries where you normally don’t go, and I think it would make golf more popular in the world. That’s my recommendation.”
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...