The collective will of golf’s establishment to swat aside challenges by Saudi Arabia means the European Tour will be renamed from the start of next year. DP World, the Dubai-based logistics company, will take on title sponsorship of the tour, with prize funds to increase as a direct result. The European Tour, formed in 1972, will keep its name as an overarching corporate entity only.
Saudi Arabia’s manoeuvres in the professional game have met staunch resistance from the European and PGA Tours, who are now in strategic alliance. Greg Norman was recently confirmed as the public face of a Saudi-based series of 10 events on the Asian Tour. The Saudis have long-held aspirations of a golf super league but, as yet, have no formal buy-in from leading players.
The DP World Tour will lead to prize funds – including major championships and World Golf Championships – totalling more than $200m (£147m) for the first time. Tournaments solely sanctioned by the DP World Tour must have a minimum purse of $2m.
Next year will feature a minimum of 47 tournaments in 27 different countries, including new events in the United Arab Emirates, Japan, South Africa and Belgium. Neither the European Tour nor DP World would detail the length of their partnership or its total monetary value but it is understood the latter runs into hundreds of millions of dollars.
“This announcement is momentous and will herald a new era in global golf,” said Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive. “When I joined [in 2016] I told the board I felt the name of the tour was a misnomer and did not reflect our brand. We are definitely a world tour.
“The DP World Tour is a natural evolution of our decade-long partnership, and the presence of ‘world’ in our new title better reflects our global reach. We will always remember our heritage and those who have gone before us who helped us shape our tour but we also rejoice in our global footprint.”
Pelley refused to reference directly the Saudi/Asian Tour alliance. However, this will inevitably be viewed as the further closing of ranks by the PGA and European Tours.
Rory McIlroy, speaking via video conference to a media event held in Dubai, branded the deal “great news for global golf”. The four-times major winner has previously spoken out against Saudi plans for his sport.
Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, said: “I’ve said before that our respective tours are positioned to grow – together – over the next 10 years faster than we ever have at any point in our existence and today’s announcement is another point of proof in those efforts.”