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  • Alistair Tait

Contrived, Complicated, Convoluted?

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Remember the European Tour’s Final Series? No? Let me jog your memory.

Former European Tour chief executive George O’Grady unveiled the Final Series in November 2012 when he announced the 2013 schedule. It consisted of four big end of season tournaments worth over $30 million. Players had to commit to two of the first three to be eligible for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

Sounds good, huh?

“The introduction of The Final Series … is being made to bring even more drama and excitement to the conclusion of our season and to further enhance the Race to Dubai,” O’Grady said.
“The response from our leading players to this change has been extremely encouraging.”

Er, actually, the response wasn’t as encouraging as O’Grady had hoped. Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els were all ruled ineligible for the 2013 DP World Tour championship because they hadn’t played in two of the first three Final Series tournaments. A year later that requirement was dropped.

The Final Series lasted just four seasons, finishing in 2016.

The Final Series at least seemed easy enough to follow. The 2024 schedule might just have European golf fans scratching their heads, as I've been doing for the last few days. The text below from the European Tour press release earlier this week sums up next season:

“The 2024 Race to Dubai will feature three new and distinct phases – five innovative ‘Global Swings’ from November 2023 to August 2024; an historic ‘Back 9’ from September 2024 to October 2024; and two ‘DP World Tour Play-Offs’ in November 2024.

Playoffs? Hmm, wonder where that idea came from? Any guesses.

The entire 2024 schedule can be viewed here.

One long-time European Tour insider used the words “contrived, complicated and convoluted” to describe the new format.

I agree. As for the playoffs? Let’s face it, there’s no guarantee the top players will actually turn up. The likes of Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa have all missed the DP World Tour Championship in recent years. Morikawa skipped last year even though he was European number one the previous season. Rahm missed the 2021 event when he had an outside chance of winning the Race to Dubai. Rose and Hovland took a pass that year too. Rose opted for the PGA Tour’s RLM Classic.

Myself and two other journalists had lunch with a high-ranking European Tour official during the 2017 DP World Tour Championship who privately lamented McIlroy’s absence from the curtain closer. Said official basically asked what the tour had to do to get star players to turn up when they were so rich they could turn down the chance of a seven-figure cheque.

That question is as pertinent now as it was then.

I know European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley and his team are working as hard as they can to get star players to return to Europe more often. Sadly, in a world with $20 and $25 million events, there is less and less incentive for marquee names to jump in their private jets to travel back to their home tours, even if next year’s two playoff tournaments, the Abu Dhabi Championship (pictured) and DP World Tour Championship, are worth $9 and $10 million respectively.

Will the new contrived, convoluted and complicated European Tour schedule revive the circuit’s sagging fortunes? As an avowed European Tour fan, I hope so, but the signs aren’t looking good.

A recurring theme is taking place at this week’s ISPS HANDA World Invitational in Northern Ireland. It’s yet another tournament devoid of star talent

There are just two world top 100 players. Fifty-eighth ranked Robert MacIntyre and Adrian Otaegui at 91st. World number 68 Victor Perez entered but withdrew. As if three from the top 100 isn’t bad enough, consider there’s only another six world top 200 players teeing it up.

Are you thinking glorified Challenge Tour event?

Compare it to what’s taking place at Close House in the Asian Tour's International Series England and there’s no comparison. Pretty sure if given a choice most golf fans would opt for the Northumberland event with Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Pat Perez, Abraham Ancer, Anirban Lahiri, Richard Bland, Brendan Steele, Jason Kokrak, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein. Next week's St Andrews Bay Championship features Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Harold Varner III, Mito Pereira, Eugenio Chacarra and Bernd Wiesberger.

Two consecutive Asian Tour events on British soil? How did that come about Mr Pelley?

These are tough times for the European Tour, caught as it is hanging onto scraps from the PGA Tour’s table by virtue of its strategic alliance, and overwhelmed by the cash on offer on the LIV Tour.

Let’s hope ordinary golf fans can get on board with the new contrived, complicated and convoluted European Tour, now DP World Tour, schedule.

I have my doubts.

#JustSaying: “The many new and original enhancements we have introduced will guarantee drama and excitement for our fans, our broadcasters and all our stakeholders across the entire season and means, more than ever, that every week counts on the DP World Tour.” Keith Pelley

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