By Brian Keogh

Gary Murphy has called on the Tour to get tough with Europe's stay away stars as sponsors get a raw deal for their investment.

Just six members of the world's top 50 and only four of last year's Ryder Cup team will tee it up in this week's €3.6 million Smurfit Kappa European Open.

And the Kilkenny man believes the time has come for officialdom to make a stand as Europe's top events are continuously snubbed by the elite players.

Murphy rapped: "Ireland is not getting the rewards it deserves with the field and the weather but we have to get on with it.

“It was the same at the French Open last week when the field was like something you’d get for a €1.3 million tournament. But it was a €4 million euro tournament.

"It’s bulls**t. The top players are suiting themselves and a lot of promoters and sponsors are not happy.

"From the middle of May to the middle of August our schedule is as good as the States but the guys who should be supporting the tournaments are not supporting the tournaments."

US Open champion Angel Cabrera, Ireland's Padraig Harrington, Scot Colin Montgomerie, top Swede Niclas Fasth, Aussie Richard Green and England's David Howell are the only top 50 players taking part this week.

But a host of Europe's stars have turned their backs on the event for one reason or another and Murphy believes the tour should stop hyping the Ryder Cup aces and concentrate on boosting the up-and-coming stars.

Of the side that romped to Ryder Cup victory on the sister Palmer Course last year, four withdrew their entries over the past week with injured Lee Westwood and Paul Casey the latest to cry off.

Darren Clarke and Robert Karlsson withdrew last weekend, Westwood pulled out on Monday with a knee injury while Casey left it until yesterday to announce that he is suffering from a bruised muscle in his back.

Their absence is part of a worrying trend for the European Tour but compared to the US PGA Tour, which forces players to play 15 events, Europe only requires players to take part in 11 to retain their membership.

Just two of the world's top 50 played in the Irish Open while in last week's French Open, world No 31 Ian Poulter was the top player chasing record prize money.

French organisers reacted angrily to the poor turn out and told European Tour boss George O'Grady that they are considering slashing prize money in half next year to just €2 million.

Murphy can perfectly understand the French position as the big guns continue to pick and choose their events with no regard for the greater good of the tour.

But he knows that the European Tour is reluctant to get tough with the top stars when the Ryder Cup is the circuit's biggest selling points with sponsors.

Comparing the world's top two tours, Murphy said: "To draw an analogy, it’s probably easier for Alex Ferguson to get tough than Watford's Adie Boothroyd. But we do need to get tougher.

"A lot of the guys outside the top ten are very unhappy about it. There needs to be more pressure put on these top guys to support the events.

"Everyone knows what has to be done but I am not going to say it. I want to make headlines by shooting four 68s than for any other reason.

"But I think there’s far too much emphasis on the Ryder Cup instead of events like the French Open, the European Open, Loch Lomond and so on. The reality is that only three or four guys that play in Europe that play in the Ryder Cup.

"We sell our whole tour on the Ryder Cup but there are 10 or 12 massive tournaments in Europe that everyone should be playing.

"I think the big problem is that the young players are not getting supported or sold well enough. There is big talk about the '99 Walker Cup team and Graeme Storm was one of those as Luke Donald and Paul Casey were.

"Now Graeme has won the French Open, which is a massive tournament. We need to start selling those players coming through.

"Oliver Fisher has just turned pro and is having a very solid year at 18 years of age. The older, top players have been flying the flag for a long number of years. But we probably need to be looking at that angle rather than flogging the old players all the time."