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One unified global tour coming, predicts Kuchar

Matt Kuchar of the U.S. hits from the sand on the 16th hole during the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club
Matt Kuchar of the U.S. hits from the sand on the 16th hole during the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club

(Reuters) - The PGA and European Tours may soon join forces to create one unified global golf circuit, world number eight Matt Kuchar predicted on Tuesday, a move which could address scheduling complaints from top players.

The American believes the Asian and Australian Tours could also figure in the unified circuit, which was first mooted by golf great Greg Norman in the 1990s.

"I absolutely do see the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the Asian Tour, the Australian Tour somehow turning into some sort of global world tour," Kuchar told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday ahead of this week's Australian Masters.

"I think it will be in my time.

"I think it seems like it's coming quicker in this last year ... we may all be saying Greg Norman was right in the day."

Packed schedules on both the European and U.S. tours allow players to compete for big purses for 12 months of the year but problems have arisen of late.

The coveted cream of top golfers are unwilling to play every week, leaving tours and sponsors adopting different tactics to protect their value and retain talent.

World number one Tiger Woods has been criticized by HSBC for skipping their lucrative World Golf Championship event in China in recent years, the American preferring a shorter schedule to boost his chances to add to his 14 major championship titles.

Woods told Reuters last week he backed other players to do the same.

The European Tour were criticized for imposing a rule that members must play in two of the three events leading up to this week's DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to be eligible for the last of the four Final Series tournaments.

That decision was described as 'farcical' by former British and U.S. Open champion Ernie Els.

Last year, the Asian Tour lost a restraint of trade case in the Singapore courts brought by four players they had fined for entering events on the rival OneAsia circuit.

Last week, professional golfers had the opportunity to play major events in America, Turkey, India, Australia and Japan with several other options also available in lower ranking circuits around the world.

That number will increase further next year with the PGA Tour, the biggest of the golf circuits, unveiling plans last month to launch a new development circuit in China called the PGA Tour China, following similar projects in Latin America and Canada.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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