European Tour announces Rolex Series, overhaul of top events
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) The European Tour announced on Tuesday that it will group at least seven of its marquee events together as the Rolex Series and will be scrapping the Final Series format beginning with the 2017 season.
The BMW PGA Championship, the Irish Open, the Scottish Open and the Italian Open will join the three Final Series events – the Turkish Airlines Open, the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship – as part of the new schedule.
The Race to Dubai, formerly known as the Order of Merit, will be retained. Each of the seven events will have a prize purse of at least $7 million.
The cash-rich events are part of European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley's plans to have tournaments in Europe that can compete with the prize funds available on the PGA Tour. He believes they will prevent young European players from moving to the U.S., as well as attract PGA Tour stars to play in Europe.
Pelley, speaking ahead of this week's DP World Tour Championship, said that eight or nine events could end up as part of the Rolex Series next season and that it's his goal to increase that number to 10 tournaments in 2018.
He also said that the $7 million minimum ''is the threshold that we felt that was needed to produce something of a high quality'' for the series. Investments by the Tour in its television and digital productions and the pursuit of additional marketing and sponsorship opportunities are also part of the plan.
Pelley said the Tour and Rolex will subsidize tournaments such as the Irish Open and Scottish Open to allow them to distribute at least $7 million to players.
The Tour will also start the Access List, which will be a separate money list that will not include earnings from the Rolex Series, the Masters, the PGA Championship or the four World Golf Championships. The top three players on that list will be invited to play in Rolex Series events, and the top 10 finishers will be eligible for full European Tour membership for the following season.