x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Karlsson envisions European exodus to PGA from Race to Dubai

The defending champion moved his play to United States where tournaments are "a little more even" despite the bureaucracy.

Robert Karlsson in action during the Pro Am.
Robert Karlsson in action during the Pro Am.

DUBAI // Robert Karlsson yesterday predicted that more European players will join the US PGA tour over the coming years.

The Swede decided to leave the European Tour this year and took up his playing card for America, as did Luke Donald, and they will be joined in 2012 by Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell.

Many events, including majors, are sanctioned by both tours, however, Westwood acknowledged he will play far more American tournaments because he wants to take part in the end of year FedExCup where the winner takes home sport's biggest prize, a cheque for US$10million (Dh37m).

"I can see why more players will play more events in America next year," said Karlsson, who today begins the defence of his Dubai World Championship crown.

"The American Tour limits you to 12 events if you are not a full member and, as the majors and a number of world championship golf events count on both tours, they wouldn't have to play that many more tournaments.

"The downside is that it is going to be a lot of golf. But, Rory is young, so he'll be fine."

Karlsson has enjoyed his year in the States where he believes he has a greater chance of victory on the tour.

"The American bureaucracy takes a bit of getting used to, in terms of getting a green card," he said.

"But it's been good and I'm happy with the decision that I've taken with the family.

"The tournaments are probably a little more even. The fields are more bunched up. If you have a good round, or a good weekend, then you can really make progress."

As for the Donald-McIlroy face-off this week, last year's tournament winner believes the Northern Irishman has a fine chance.

"The way the course is set up favours the longer player," said Karlsson.

"Look at the par-fives; the 18th played a million miles on Tuesday, the 14th hole is long, as is seven and two. Luke can't get on in two on any of those, and I would say Rory could reach the green on three of them.

"So up to the greens, Rory has a huge advantage."