What does $20 million really mean?
Thats the money figure that has been widely bandied about in the publicity surrounding the European Tours final event, which will take place in late November in Dubai.
Twenty million dollars (U.S.) will be at stake. But the most any player will cart off at the end of the week is $3.6 million.
Thats more than $6 million less than the winner of the FedEx Cup scores. And that brings us back to the impact of the Race To Dubai and the Euro Tours season-ending Dubai World Championship:
Its more money than the Europeans have ever played for in one place. But the economy is bad all over the world. And its not as if the PGA Tour got poor overnight.
To be sure, there will be top American players that qualify for the 60-man Dubai World Championship where the field will divvy up a $10 million purse and the top 15 players on the final Race to Dubai season standings (this used to be called The Order of Merit) will split up another $10 million.
But there hasnt been a full-scale exodus of Yanks. And there wont be any time soon. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, to name a pair, declined to take full European Tour membership (a Race To Dubai requirement) when the deadline came and passed in November.
Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas, to name a pair, have taken up what the European Tour calls Affiliated Membership. That means, for a minimal fee, they are eligible to obtain seven invitations to Euro sanctioned events and, more importantly, they are not subject to the 12-event minimum required by full members.
Part of the allure of the Race to Dubai for players and the people who market them is the opportunity to go global the Race presents. But Dubai, for all its oil riches, is not the land of milk and honey that many people think it is.
The Wall St. Journal recently reported that banks and finance companies that helped underwrite Dubais recent real estate growth are ' heres a surprise ' facing mortgage defaults. Part of the problem for that region has been the precipitous decline in oil prices in the last several months.
Undaunted, the European Tour is building its international headquarters in Dubai. And several of its top players have residences in that country.
I think this Race to Dubai now unites us on a global basis, says European Tour executive director George OGrady.
And PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made a special point of acknowledging the existence of the Race to Dubai at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the end of last year.
For a while at the end of last year there was even talk of Dubai being the European host venue for a Ryder Cup as early as 2018. OGrady subsequently scotched that notion.
To be sure, Dubai and the influence it will wield in the world of golf in the near future will be immense. Remember, Tiger Woods first effort as a golf course designer is in Dubai. Right now Dubai is an oasis for golf. And its not likely to become a mirage any time soon.
But its impact is limited. The big television contracts and the large title sponsor dollars are still going to be spent in the United States for the foreseeable future.
Any rumors of the demise of the PGA Tour, at the hands of The Race to Dubai, are greatly exaggerated.
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