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Pepperell admits fears for Tour's future amid 'terrifying' pandemic

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Eddie Pepperell: There’s probably a dozen companies in the world capable of surviving this without intervention. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Eddie Pepperell: There’s probably a dozen companies in the world capable of surviving this without intervention. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Action Images via Reuters

Eddie Pepperell: There’s probably a dozen companies in the world capable of surviving this without intervention. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Eddie Pepperell admits he is concerned for the future of the European Tour given the "frankly terrifying" state of the global economy due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After staging two co-sanctioned events in Austria with the Challenge Tour over the past fortnight, the full European Tour returns to action for the first time since early March with this week's British Masters, an event Pepperell won in 2018 and was runner-up in last year.

The tournament has a prize fund of €1.25 million and is the first of six events on the newly formed "UK Swing". The remaining five have purses of €1 million each and had to be created and funded by the European Tour itself.

In stark contrast, the PGA Tour has been providing full prize funds since it returned last month and €9 million is up for grabs at next week's WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, but while Pepperell personally feels under no financial pressure to play, he is concerned about the broader picture.

"Everyone is in different positions in terms of career, finances and family," the 29-year-old said. "From my particular perspective there's no pressure on me, I don't feel I have to play golf for any reason at the moment, it's purely do I want to play and support the Tour, and of course I do.

"But at the same time, should I not enjoy the lifestyle very much then it won't be very long before I just decide to stay at home and enjoy a bit more freedom.

"I worry more about the cascading effects because if we're playing for 30 per cent less then that has a knock-on effect; I don't pay my caddie as much, I don't pay my coach as much, I don't pay my physio as much so they're not as wealthy and that's what concerns me with not just golf obviously.

"It's the whole situation we see around the world, the deflationary aspect of it which is frankly, a little terrifying."

Asked if he feared for the future of the European Tour, Pepperell added: "I suppose so, but ultimately there's probably a dozen companies on the planet that could have survived this crisis without massive intervention and they are the Apples and Amazons of the world.

"I don't think the fact that the Tour could struggle is necessarily a sign it wasn't in a decent enough position heading into this crisis, this is just such a huge crisis."

Irish trio Cormac Sharvin, Gavin Moynihan and Jonathan Caldwell will be teeing up at Close House today but Paul Dunne will be expected to fly the flag for Ireland in the event he won on the same venue in 2017.

"For this tournament to be one of the ones to go ahead was good news for me because obviously I've got good memories here and I'm ready to get going after a long lay-off," said the 26-year-old Greystones golfer.

"The course is playing a lot different but I am still looking at different shots that I hit in different places in 2017 and it brings back some good feels and some good memories."

Dunne spent four months over in Alabama and has been recovering from surgery on a hand injury so the timing of the European Tour's return has fitted into his schedule. "I wouldn't have been able to play up until now so in that respect nothing has changed much with my plans.

"Obviously the aim in these next five events is to try and get a spot in the US Open and try get into those final events but I'm just happy to be back out playing again, like everyone is, rather than being stuck inside."

  • British Masters, Live, Sky Sports, 12.0

Irish Independent