"With the Order of Merit giving way to the 'Race To Dubai'"

sgmair120.jpg I just want to take this moment to apologize to the gang in Ponte Vedra for ever implying that you ever sell naming rights in tacky fashion.

Because after reading the slew of stories covering the European Tour's Monday announcement of a new sponsor--scooped a week ago by Lawrence Donegan--it really is hard to imagine a more dramatic whoring sell-out by the Euro Tour. Oh, and by the way, what rich coverage from the various writers who made it to Dubai, reportedly on the European Tour's dime. Or Leisurecorp's? Or, well, they're one and the same now.

The Principal, who did not accept a free trip, naturally has a less than positive take on the news.

From Lewine Mair's Telegraph story:

The man who wins the inaugural Dubai World Championship, which is to take place at the Jumeirah Golf Estates from Nov 19-22, 2009, could make off with a cool £1.8 million. Aside from a winner's cheque of £800,000 from a £4.9 million prize-fund, which will make the championship the richest individual tournament in the game, he could also bag the top prize of £975,000 from a bonus pool worth another £4.9 million.

And how about his buried item:

Aside from the Dubai World Championship and the bonus pool, Leisurecorp will construct an international headquarters for the European Tour in the city which will take in a centre of excellence. Again, the Tour will combine with the company to create a global property operation to develop new tournament venues around the world.

Isn't that special?

James Corrigan notes the improvement with a traditional calendar year schedule:

With an overall prize pot of almost £10m, the Dubai World Championship will replace the Volvo Masters as the grand finale to the campaign – which will now run, blessedly, from January to November instead of October to October – with the Order of Merit giving way to the "Race To Dubai".

Douglas Lowe speculates that Tiger may be enticed to join the European Tour so he can spend even more time enjoying life in bucolic Dubai:

Woods, through his management company IMG, has already inquired what would be involved to join the club and he is not far away from meeting requirements which, critically, involves playing in 11 European Tour events, or 10 plus the new season-ender that will be limited to the top 60 in the order of merit that will be renamed Race to Dubai.

With major and world golf championships counting as co-sanctioned events, Woods starts off with seven. Add in tournaments like the HSBC Champions in which he played last year and the Dubai Desert Classic and he is just one short. The rules may even change as the European Tour's influential players committee are meeting in January in Abu Dhabi to discuss the rule of 11, although it is believed a reduction is not on the agenda.

John Hopkins pretty much (I think) finds the whole thing hard to fathom:

The $1.66 million that will go to the winner of the Dubai World Championship in 2009 and the $2m that a golfer will receive for winning what we now know as the Order of Merit but will be renamed The Race To Dubai at the same time undeniably add up to loads of dosh, much moolah and all that. But to win the bounty for TRTD the golfer will have had to compete very successfully on the European Tour for the previous year. And to win the DBC he will have to play very well for 72 holes in November 2009. It might be a lot of money that he is receiving but that is a lot of golf, too.


Has the world gone mad? How many more nurses could be employed if a fraction of that sum was diverted into the National Health. How many more teachers? How many more doctors?

Market forces, as well as a good any other things, were present at the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai when the Dubai World Championship and TRTD were announced on Monday. A burly Australian with an accent you could cut with a knife spoke of his pleasure at being able to announce that his company was investing $200m dollars in these two events and a few others and said that though the investment was for five years initially it would probably be extended to ten years. And George O'Grady, executive director of the European Tour, spoke of his pleasure at being able to announce two such whopping events as the DWC and TRTD.

Norman Dabell features this gem of a quote from George O'Grady:

"With the combined prize funds of the Dubai World Championship and The Race to Dubai we have the prospect of a player standing over a putt for $3,666,660.

And you thought deferred compensation was tricky to explain.

Speaking of The Road To Dubai, Lawrence Donegan, who does not appear to have accepted the complimentary junket to file from Dubai, puts things in perspective by considering those who build the roads.

The fanfare will sound next Monday when the European tour officially announces it will be staging the most lucrative golf tournament in the history of the game. Twenty million dollars (£10m) at stake over four days on a course in Dubai. Nice work if you can get it, or at least nicer work than the work done by the immigrant labourers in the so-called "world's greatest tourist destination" who went on strike last week in support of a claim that would see their wages rise from £52 a month to £79.

The good news is the labourers got their rise. The bad news they returned to a life - to quote the 2006 Human Rights Watch report Building Towers, Cheating Workers - of "wage exploitation, indebtedness to unscrupulous recruiters and working conditions that are hazardous to the point of being deadly".

No doubt the European tour would object to any suggestion that its willingness to accept the backing of the United Arab Emirates government for a $20m tournament is an endorsement of the kind of practices, unchecked by the very same government, described in the Human Rights Watch report.

Enjoyed this too. Score another one for Greg's brand.

Even if direct culpability could be established, it would be unfair to single out the European tour alone for criticism. Only this week Greg Norman turned up in Dubai to launch the Greg Norman Limited Edition Range Rover Sport - given away free to those who purchase one of the 66 luxury homes at the "Fireside by Greg Norman" estate. "Dubai has put itself on the map as the ultimate destination for golf and residence," declared the Great White Property Shark. Poor Greg, he probably thinks Human Rights Watch is a limited-edition timepiece.