European Tour minnows have a chance to make a bigger splash in 2019 than in previous seasons thanks to the introduction of a new Race to Dubai points system.
Players at the bottom of the European Tour food chain have had a tough time retaining full cards because of prize fund differentials. Qualifying School graduates have been especially hard hit. Just seven of last year’s 33 Q-School grads kept cards during the 2018 season. Only three manged to do so in 2017.
The European Tour has taken steps to make it more fair for players down the pecking order to hang onto full playing rights by dividing tournaments into categories based on prize funds.
Previously, points on the tour’s order of merit, the Race to Dubai, were determined on the basis of one dollar being equal to one point. It created a disparity of approximately 12-1 between bigger and smaller tournaments. For example, the U.S. Open’s $12 million prize fund meant winner Brooks Koepka, had he been a Euro Tour member, would have picked up 2,160,000 points compared to Chris Paisley’s 165,425 point for winning the $1 million BMW SA Open.
The European Tour has reduced the disparity from 12-1 to 5-1 to “create a more consistent, performance-based system for European Tour members who have a lower category on the exemption list … thereby providing members who do not get into the bigger prize money events a fairer opportunity to keep their card.”
The Tour has created nine categories for 2019, with $1-1.749 million prize funds in the lowest band offering 2,000 points to the field. The majors offer the highest points, with 10,000 available.
England’s Aaron Rai tops the Race to Dubai after winning the $2 million Honma Hong Kong Open, the opening event of the 2019 season. It was a Category 2 tournament offering 2,750 points. Rai earned 460 Race to Dubai points, with last place Liam Johnston of Scotland picking up five points. Under the old system, Rai would have earned 332,231 points and Johnston just 2,986 points, a difference of 329,245 compared to the current 455 points difference.
The new Race to Dubai points system breakdown
1. $1 million- $1.749 million = 2000 points available
2. $1.75 million- $2.499 million = 2750 points available
3. $2.5 million – $3.249 million = 3500 points available
4. $3.25 million – $3.99 million = 4,250 points available
5. $4 million – $4.99 million = 5,000 points available
6. $5 million – $5.499 million = 5,500 points available
7. Rolex Series events = 7,000, 7,500 or 8,000 points available (based on prize fund)
8. World Golf Championships (WGC) = 9,000 points available
9. Major Championships = 10,000 points available