LONDON: Some of the best golfers on the planet are set to battle it out for the largest prize in golfing history in the Middle East later this year, after it was revealed the winner of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, will pocket a cheque for $3 million.
That eye-watering figure headlines a raft of changes to the final three Rolex Series events of the 2019 European Tour Race to Dubai, which include reducing the number of players hoping to pick up the stacks of cash from 60 to 50, and increasing the prize money on offer to the winners of the Turkish Airlines Open and South Africa’s Nedbank Challenge — the two events leading up to the Dubai finale.
For tour chief Keith Pelley that all adds up to one thing — a lot more fun on the fairways.
“The changes we have announced in terms of enhanced winner’s cheques, Race to Dubai points and bonus pool dividend are designed to increase the excitement around the end of the season, as well as encourage greater top-player participation in our final three events,” European Tour boss Pelley said. “Had these additional Race to Dubai points been available over the past five years, on average between five and 16 players would have come to our final event with a chance of winning the Race to Dubai, in addition to an average of 43 players having the chance to earn bonus pool money at the end of the season — both numbers considerably higher than was actually the case in those years.
“With the revised prize money breakdown and the extra Race to Dubai points in place for 2019, this provides a tremendous incentive for our players.”
The Race to Dubai was conceived in 2009 as a means of the European Tour challenging the more lucrative PGA Tour for the biggest names in world golf. While it has added prestige to the tour and more US-based players, such as Patrick Reed, teeing it up in events there remains a feeling that the Tour is its US rival’s poor cousin. That sentiment was only added to this year when Rory McIlroy (left) revealed he might not play in enough events to maintain his membership of the European Tour.
The increased money on offer is a response to the PGA Tour’s revamped FedEx Cup this year which has seen a doubling of prize money to $70 million — and a first prize of $15 million. This includes a $10 million regular season bonus pool to be distributed at the end of the Wyndham Championships at the start of August.
The $3 million on offer to the winner at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November is mind-boggling — beating the US Open winner’s prize of $2.16 million — but it is not a one-off with the Turkish Airlines Open and South Africa’s Nedbank Challenge both increasing their winner’s pots to $2 million and $2.5 million respectively. The bonus pool will also only be distributed to the top five players — not the top 10 — so the winner will bank $2 million (up from $1.25 million).
In addition, the field sizes for the final three events of the season have been revised and reduced to show a clear progression from event to event; with the leading 70 players from the Race to Dubai playing in Turkey, the leading 60 competing in South Africa, and the leading 50 lining up in Dubai.
Golf has for some time now been associated with huge paydays and winner’s cheques — the complaints from past players being that you do not have to be that good to make a very nice living smashing booming drives down the fairways and holing long putts on the greens.
This move ups the ante even more and, as Pelley said, offers up yet more options for golfers keen to add to their bulging bank balances.
“With the revised prize money breakdown and the extra Race to Dubai points in place for 2019, this provides a tremendous incentive for our players,” he said.