Lee Westwood says Race to Dubai prize money cut


2009 European TourAKRON, Ohio ' Lee Westwood says prize money from the lucrative Race to Dubai on the European Tour has been reduced by 25 percent because of the economy.
Not disappointed, not surprised, Westwood said Wednesday from the Bridgestone Invitational. I think its a reality check for everybody that in times like this ' when theres a credit crunch, people are struggling financially ' that nobody is immune. I heard before it all came out in the press that it was going from $10 million down to $7.5 million. Thats still a massive prize when you think about it.
I think were lucky to be playing for that kind of money.
The Guardian reported this week that prize funds would be cut from $10 million to $7.5 million, both in the season-ending Dubai World Championship and the bonus pool from the accumulative points in the Race to Dubai.
This is the first year of the points race, sponsored by Dubai-based developer Leisurecorp. The Dubai World Championship was billed as the richest tournament in golf, topping The Players Championship at $9.5 million.
The Guardian said European Tour chief executive George OGrady would be traveling to Dubai this week to make an announcement.
The European Tour declined comment except for a statement that said, The agreement is proceeding as planned, but George OGrady will be making a visit to the region in the very near future.
Henrik Stenson said he had only heard rumors of a prize reduction and did not want to assess anything until it was confirmed by the European Tour.
The world economic situation affects everyone in one way or another, Stenson said. All the tours are struggling to keep sponsors. I think were lucky in golf because we have a strong product to offer.
Stenson said the SAS Masters in Sweden, held a week after the British Open, cut its prize money by 40 percent. On the PGA Tour, the St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tenn., dropped its purse by $500,000.
If the option is to cut down prize money or have no tournament at all, wed take the tournament, he said. Only a small portion of the players would look at the money.
The Race to Dubai had hopes of attracting U.S.-based players, and among those who joined the European Tour this year were Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas, Geoff Ogilvy and Ben Curtis, a former British Open champion who previously took up full membership in Europe.
Curtis said any prize reduction would not change his plans.
Its still a lot of money, Curtis said. And if you play well, you get rewarded, like it should be.
Westwood, runner-up at the Bridgestone event last year to Vijay Singh, did not believe support for the Race to Dubai would change.
I can fully understand, and Im pretty supportive, in a way, that theyre still hanging in there because you look at a lot of sponsors, you look at how unfortunate Buick has been over here and people like that, he said. Were just lucky to be playing in big tournaments for that kind of money, never mind whether its $10 million or $7.5 (million).
Buick announced Tuesday that it was ending its sponsorship of two PGA Tour events.