European Tour Race To Dubai: Changes made to Final Series qualifying criteria
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 17/03/14 5:28pm
Henrik Stenson: Landed the Race To Dubai title last season
The European Tour has announced changes to the season-ending Final Series and the climax to the Race To Dubai after several players criticised the new format last year.
Along with a big increase in prize money, the major change made by the Tour is the removal of the need for players to play in two of the three Final Series events in order to be eligible for the bonus pool and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The prize fund goes from $3.75 million to $5 million this season, while the concluding World Tour Championship will include the leading 60 players available rather than just those who finished inside the top 60 in the Race To Dubai standings.
The likes of Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els were critical of the new criteria last season, as the European Tour introduced the Final series to rival the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup that forms the end of their season.
The closing events will remain the same, with the BMW Masters, WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open being held before the World Tour Championship - but the changes in qualification have been made after discussions with the players and the Tournament Committee of the European Tour.
"The new regulations and the new points system are a good move," said 15-time winner and Tournament Committee chairman Thomas Bjorn.
"It means if you miss some of those events it will be difficult to win The Race to Dubai, so there is an incentive to play in as many Final Series events as possible. The goal for us was to get the top players to play in the Final Series and this will hopefully help do that."
A new points system will also be introduced in 2014, with all prize money on the Race To Dubai standings converted to points after the final regular event at the Perth International, with the Final Series events having a different points breakdown to reward players performing well in the closing events.
Players must then play in the World Tour Championship to be eligible for the bonus prize pool which will be shared by the top 15 players on the Race To Dubai standings.
"It's good to evaluate and make tweaks to any system," last year's winner Henrik Stenson said of the changes. "These changes are for the better and won't cut anyone out if they don't want to play all of the Final Series events.
"It's down to yourself, but if you do play in all of them you are giving yourself an even better chance of winning The Race to Dubai. It's always nice to see an increase in the Bonus Pool as well, so I think the announcement is a good move all round."
One of last year's critics Garcia also welcomed the changes, saying: "I'm very happy with the changes and I'm looking forward to the Final Series. At the end of the day, we are all working together. I'm very happy to see that we've reached a middle ground which should help make us all happy."
Keith Waters, Chief Operating Officer and Director of International Policy for The European Tour, said that they had listened to the player when making the changes.
"The inaugural staging of The Final Series was a huge success with the best golfer in the world at the end of last year - Henrik Stenson - eagling the final hole at Jumeirah Golf Estates to win not only the DP World Tour Championship but also The Race to Dubai.
"However, The European Tour always listens to its Membership and we were aware that there was some fine tuning required to the overall structure of The Final Series to make an already excellent product even better. We are confident that the changes we are announcing today will do just that."