Race to Dubai - Luiten's Injury: Time for another Format Change ?
Post from Sports Writer Derek Clements
WHAT a farce! Joost Luiten pulled out of the BMW Masters after his first shot because of a shoulder injury, and the European Tour has only itself to blame because of its crazy Race to Dubai rules.
He had decided not to withdraw beforehand due to new rules on the number of tournaments players need to have participated in to qualify for the DP World Championship in Dubai in November.
Luke Donald, who is not known for his outspoken views, was due to play with Luiten and wasn't happy with the situation.
Donald took to Twitter to express his views: "New Euro Tour rule this year states that you have to play at least 2 out 3 events before Race to Dubai (World Championship in Dubai) to be eligible...
"If that rule wasn't in effect then Joost would have withdrawn prior to event and 1st reserve would have got to play this week's event. Can't blame Joost - new rule forced his hand."
Only the top 60 players in Europe who have also played two out of the three preceding events in what the tour is calling "The Final Series" will be eligible.
Luiten is 11th in the Race to Dubai standings and is a certainty to play in Dubai - but he must take part in two of the tree events leading up to the finale. Unbelievably, by turning up to hit one shot, he is regarded as having taken part in the BMW Masters.
And it doesn't finish there. Should he still be struggling with his injured shoulder in Turkey there is the possibility he could turn up in Antalya and hit one shot and withdraw again - and still play in Dubai.
Many players are unhappy with the new rules and even the European Tour will surely now realise that they have to be changed. It was bad enough that Luiten walked off the course, but imagine how Justin Walters must have felt. The South African just missed out on qualifying for the 78-man field but travelled to Shanghai as first reserve, just in case somebody pulled out of the $7m tournament.
Common sense should have prevailed. Luiten ought to have received an injury exemption while Watson - a player in form - was given his place in the field.
Luiten hit his tee shot "120 yards, straight down the middle" according to Donald, before shaking hands with his playing partners and disappearing to pack his bags.
The new rules are designed to ensure the best possible fields at the first three of the Race to Dubai's Final Series - two in Shanghai and one in Turkey - and not just for the season-ending $8 million DP World Tour Championship which also offers a $3.75m bonus pool for the top 10 in the Race To Dubai standings.
The European Tour said in a statement that players "must have participated in... at least two of the preceding three tournaments in the Final Series". You can call me old-fashioned if you like, but this sort of absurdity does golf no good whatsoever.
Derek Clements is a sports journalist with a particular passion for golf with over 12 years of experience covering golf and other sports including Chief Sub-Editor on the sports desk of The Sunday Times. To contact Derek email direct via [email protected]
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