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The American dream is becoming a nightmare for the European Tour

Well, that's it, folks, the European Tour season is over.

Martin Kaymer, right, and his Scottish caddie Craig Connelly will be regulars on the PGA Tour next year. Picture: Getty Images
Martin Kaymer, right, and his Scottish caddie Craig Connelly will be regulars on the PGA Tour next year. Picture: Getty Images

And in the time it's taken you to read that sentence, have a slurp of coffee and brush the crumbs of a custard cream off your sweater, the 2013 campaign will have just about cranked back into life.

Following golf these days should come with a complimentary oxygen mask because it's almost impossible to catch your breath. The Race to Dubai is done and dusted. Next week in South Africa, the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship will usher in the start of the new season and the runners and riders will charge off again before the dust has even settled.

This time next year, we will no doubt be reflecting on the European Tour's recently unveiled 'Final Series', a £19m extravaganza that will bring the curtain down on the schedule and will feature four successive events, namely the BMW Masters and WGC-HSBC Champions in China, the Turkish Open and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Because the European order of merit had already been wrapped up by Rory McIlroy prior to last weekend's desert showpiece, George O'Grady, the tour's chief executive, is no doubt hoping the new format will keep things in the melting pot for longer, while a proviso that players must play in two of the first three events on the series to be eligible for the grand finale has also been etched in stone. "We felt there had to be an additional level of commitment from the membership to these important tournaments," said O'Grady. And "commitment" is the word that is key for the top brass at the European Tour's HQ.

Despite the expansion into the lucrative Far Eastern market, the tour's troubles on the home front have been well documented throughout the season, with its traditional heartland ravaged by the Eurozone crisis. Spain, something of a jewel in the crown for many a year, had seven events on the circuit in 2011. In 2013, it will have just one, while a resurgent South Africa boasts six.

The general mutterings of concern down Wentworth way have not been helped during these torrid times by the migration of the European flock to the sunnier climes of the USA. "We're concerned, but not panicking," was O'Grady's summary of the situation.

Last week, Martin Kaymer, the hero of Europe's Ryder Cup win at Medinah, opted, belatedly, to take up his PGA Tour membership, having become exempt by winning the US PGA Championship two years ago. Peter Hanson, Nicolas Colsaerts and English journeyman David Lynn, the surprise runner-up in August's US PGA event, have also decided to juggle competition on both sides of the Atlantic alongside the likes of McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

It doesn't end there. This week in California, other European Tour members Robert Karlsson, Alex Noren, Ross Fisher, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Romain Wattel and Oliver Fisher will all be chasing the American dream in the PGA Tour's qualifying school final.

The lure of the United States has always been strong and, unless you live next door to a scrap merchant, the grass is always greener on the other side. Even the largely unheralded Lynn – a 39-year-old who is your typical, loyal, workmanlike European Tour stalwart – has been seduced by the batting eyelashes of the temptress that is the PGA circuit and is due to exploit the rights he has earned.

During August's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, the 2004 Dutch Open winner aired his own concerns about the talent drain. Now, he too has jumped on the gravy train. "If guys just have that attitude all the time [about going to the US] it seriously doesn't do a lot of good for the European Tour in the future," he said at the time.

"The US Tour is something that's not really interested me over the years, or else I would have tried to qualify for it. But it's quite a selfish game in that respect. With everyone else doing what is best for them, I have to look at what's best for me."

The European Tour currently has a very strong start to the year, with the Middle East swing, and a strong finish, with its Far Eastern forays. But the PGA Tour is making moves on that latter region too, with the WGC-HSBC Champions' event and the CIMB Classic in Malaysia both becoming official tournaments on its schedule in 2013. In its own backyard of continental Europe, the tour on this side of the pond continues to face financial hardships.

Money talks and, in this global game where the top players can hop around and bolster their bank balances where and when they please, it continues to be a major worry for the general health of the European game when the leading lights become increasingly distant.

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