?A regular Continental tour has been scheduled in two parts, before and after the British Open, none of the events conflicting, and all of them compatible with British PGA tournaments.
?Six events, the opens of France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and Germany, have become part of the British Order of Merit—part of the British tour, in other words, helping decide Ryder Cup standings, the Vardon Trophy winner, and entrants in various invitationals.
?Six tournaments (some of them the same) now constitute something called the American Express European Order of Merit. These tournaments offer special inducements to the professionals, such as a big pro-am sponsored by American Express and run by Fred Corcoran of World Cup repute, and offering a season's prize to the most consistent player.
?Prize money is increasing. Only this spring the Italian Open and the Spanish Open upped their purses to $60,000. Others have vowed to follow. With various corporations getting into the act, a race is under way among several federations to host the richest event on the Continent.
? Tony Jacklin, one of the world's best players, has quit the American tour and joined the British and European exclusively, and he is not dominating them, proving there is competition.
The European tour has found a real friend—and draw—in Jacklin. As a former U.S. and British Open champion he can demand (and usually receive) at least $2,500 in appearance money, plus expenses, from most of the sponsors. He is ahead from the start, as opposed to his plight in America. And with the tournaments being closer to him and travel cheaper, not to mention the increasing purses, his future is even more enhanced.
"I have to play bloody well for months in the U.S. to earn $100,000," says Jacklin. "And then half of that goes to taxes and expenses. I can make more in Europe and go to more exciting places. In the U.S. every tournament seems like the same place. In Europe everything changes—the scenery, the food, the people, the language and the atmosphere. When the prize money gets even bigger, I think even some American pros are going to discover what I've already discovered. We're definitely moving toward a world tour."
It is the summer of '72, which is not a film title. The Basque Coast. Bay of Biscay. Biarritz. As a thoroughgoing hedonist I am wishing they played L'Open de France right here in my suite at the Hotel du Palais. It is a castle on a cliff above the Atlantic. From the pool I can look down on the town and the beaches below, and French ladies in brushed jeans that sell for $100. From my balcony I can see Albert's, a loud, open-air restaurant where it seems waiters walk on your table, believing it to be humorous, and where everybody sings, and where, finally, at the end of an evening, furniture or something is thrown onto the sand and sometimes set fire to. At the Hotel du Palais one hurried through dinner nightly in order to have a cognac on the terrace—and watch Albert's burn again.