DUBAI // The desires of the European Tour golfers played a part in the decision to bring the season-ending tournament back to Dubai for at least two more years, George O’Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour, said yesterday.
A straw poll of the 58 players here this week for the Dubai World Championship told him that they wanted the finale to remain where it has been since the Race to Dubai was first held in 2009.
The tournament name will be changed to the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, and the prize fund will increase to US$8 million (Dh29.3m) from $7.5m.
The winner’s cheque will increase from $1.25m to $1.33m.
The venue – the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates – will stay the same because of its popularity among the professionals on tour.
“If you speak to the players as I certainly have done this week, 58 of them to be exact, they are all unanimous on one thing; they want the last tournament of the European Tour to remain in Dubai,” O’Grady said.
“The players knew about this announcement, because I told them, and they are delighted.”
Lee Westwood this week described the course as “perfect” while Rory McIlroy, Peter Hanson and Luke Donald, the Race to Dubai winner, have all praised the tournament set-up this week.
The championship will continue to have a field of the top 60 European Tour players, although that may change after next year, O’Grady said.
There has been speculation that the $7.5m bonus pool, which is divided among the top 15 players in the final Race to Dubai rankings, would be scrapped.
However, O’Grady said yesterday that it would remain for next year, although he would not say whether the amount would stay the same.
“We will be $8m in prize money next year and it might be that figure stays all the way through,” he said.
“I think everyone is well aware of the world situation and I think holding on to that purse, with an extra bonus pool still be announced, is quite frankly a tremendous achievement.”
O’Grady said other venues had expressed interest in hosting the European Tour finale, but there was never a question of Dubai losing the tournament for the foreseeable future.
He also said he believes the European Tour has never been stronger. Three of its members won majors this year – Charl Schwartzel (the Masters), McIlroy (US Open) and Darren Clarke (British Open) – and Donald has emerged as the world No 1.
“We had a wonderful situation on Thursday when the world numbers one and two [Donald and McIlroy] were teeing off in the final grouping here in Dubai,” O’Grady said. “That gives everyone an enormous amount of confidence.
“I read a lot of articles saying that 2010 was the most successful year in European Tour history, but 2011 trumps it because we still have the Ryder Cup and have the Masters Green Jacket, US Open trophy and Claret Jug from the British Open.”