Dual-tour success stories become more rare
Jonas Blixt, who in 2013 played in just one pure European PGA Tour tournament (he was second at the Nordea Masters), is nonetheless inside the top 60 and thus will be part of the season-ending DP World Tour Challenge in Dubai (Nov. 14-17).
Blixt piled up enough money at tournaments co-sanctioned by the American and European tours (T-26 at the Open Championship, T-59 at the WGC-Bridgestone, fourth at the PGA, T-63 at the WGC-HSBC Champions) that he finished 53rd in the Race To Dubai standings.
The Swede qualifies for consideration because he’s an affiliate member of the European Tour who has committed to full membership in 2014. It will be his first season as a Euro member, and because he’ll continue with his American membership, here’s wishing him well. Judging by the numbers, he may need it, because it’s clearly become a serious challenge to play dual tours.
In 2013, of those who fulfilled membership requirements on both tours, only Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose could say that they had two terrific regular seasons. Stenson was ninth in FEC points, and is presently first in the Race to Dubai. Rose was seventh in FEC points, and sits third in the R2D.
Stenson, of course, caught fire in the FEC playoffs, won the massive bonus and is challenging to become the first to win both post-season races at season’s end.
Luke Donald (2011) and Rory McIlroy (2012) each won a pair of regular-season money titles, but this year, it sure looked like the strain of keeping dual memberships wore on the best players. Donald, for instance, is Mr. 55 – 55th in the FEC standings and presently in that same position in the Euro standings. McIlroy was 49th in FEC points and is 38th in R2D. Ian Poulter? OK, he is fourth in the R2D, but he was 70th in the FEC standings at the close of the regular season and has never qualified for the Tour Championship. Lee Westwood, presently 20th in Europe, was 35th in the FEC standings and didn’t make it into the field at East Lake.
Martin Kaymer (25th in Europe, 103rd in the U.S.), Ernie Els (14th and 82nd), Garcia (10th, 59th) and Graeme McDowell (second, 28th) all have decent standing in the European race, but had seasons below their standards on these shores.