European Tour Adds Even Greater Riches to Race to Dubai Finale
IN AN attempt to keep interest in the Race to Dubai alive until the final putt has been holed, the European Tour has announced that it will be paying golf’s biggest individual prize at the season-ending Dubai World Championship, where the winner will receive a mind-boggling $3m, an increase of $1.67m on the sum won by Danny Willett in November.
The tour makes no secret of the fact that the boost in prize money is to encourage more top players to complete the Race to Dubai. Last year world number one Justin Rose caused a few raised eyebrows when he skipped the tournament at Jumeirah Golf Estates because he had no chance of overhauling Francesco Molinari for the overall Race to Dubai title.
Only Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood still had the opportunity of winning the money list by the time the players arrived in the Middle East for the closing event. The overall prize fund will remain at $8m (£6.2m) but the field will be cut from 60 to the top 50 on the money list. There are few who will have any issue with that decision - the season-ending Tour Championship on the PGA Tour has a field of just 30 and that works perfectly well. However, the distribution of the prize money will be top loaded to provide the sport's largest winner's cheque for an individual tournament. It does seem like an attempt to manufacture a dramatic conclusion to the season.
It is one of a series of changes announced by the European Tour for the climax of 2019 season. There are also significant increases for finishing first at the Turkish Airlines Open and South Africa's Nedbank Challenge.
The champion in Turkey will take home $2m and the following week at Sun City the winner will collect $2.5m. Once again, the total prize funds for both tournaments remain unaltered but the fields will be reduced, with 70 men at the Turkish event and 60 in South Africa.
"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," said European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley.
"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."
Previously the top 10 finishers on the Race to Dubai shared the bonus pool of $5m, but now that sum will be split between only the leading five finishers. Whoever tops the standings will receive an additional $2m compared with the $1.25m won by Molinari last year.
While nobody would criticise Pelley for his attempts to reinvigorate the Race to Dubai, top-loading the prize money for the final three events quite clearly means that a golfer who wins two or three tournaments early in the year could end up way down the end-of-season honours board if somebody hits a hot streak in the final weeks of the season.
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