From Russia Without Love

2014 07 452651396

The week after a major championship tends to be rather quiet on both the PGA and European Tours. Yes, some top ranked golfers do make the effort to play – Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker all chose to take part in the RBC Canadian Open – but the vast majority take the oppprtunity recharge the batteries, particularly after the Open where the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship loom heavy on the horizon.

That’s why last week’s Russian Open proved to be a non-event. Not for the players, many of whom are fighting to keep their card for next year, but for the spectators.

It seems many of the events held by the European Tour in eastern Europe -Ukraine and Russia, for example - are nothing more than events put on to get sponsorship money.

I understand that the European Tour can’t just put on events for the world’s top-50 and needs to give other players a chance, but that’s a minor detail in the bigger picture
Golf fans love to see the world’s best players hitting great shots to win tournaments but none of that was on show at the Russian Open.

Let’s be honest, how many of you actually tuned in to watch any of the M2M Russian Open at the weekend? Very few, I imagine, and it’s easy to see why.

The European Tour’s official stance is not to offer appearance fees for anyone to play in its events, but perhaps that should be altered when it comes to weeks like the Russian Open, just to give the fans something to get excited about.

As Golf Digest’s Alex Myers pointed out, no Russian golfer has any Official World Golf Ranking points. That’s a shock in itself. But perhaps even more shocking are former tennis ace Yevgeny Kafelnikov’s stats since he switched from tennis to golf.

He’s played in 15 events in the past two years – four on the European Tour and 11 on the Challenge Tour – and missed the cut in all of them. That means he’s never hit a shot at the weekend in a professional event. Never.

Kafelnikov was one of nine Russians to play in their home Open. How many managed to make the cut? That’s right, none.

Seven of them, in fact, finished in the last nine spots. Ilya Kurochkin propped up the leaderboard with a score of 34-over-par - for two rounds. Kafelnikov was slightly better, finishing on 28-over. But at the end of the day, who wants to watch that?

Golf fans love to see the world’s best players hitting great shots to win tournaments but none of that was on show at the Russian Open. Golf will only succeed on TV if the viewer wants to watch it. Even the hardened golf nut would struggle to enjoy the Russian Open for an extended period of time.

It’s time to look for the European Tour to look at what it’s offering and ask itself: why are we doing this? If the reason is anything other than money, I’ll be shocked.

Russian Open - your thoughts

Do you agree with Craig Dennett that the European Tour has to offer an attractive product if it is to succeed? Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.

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