The 2009 European Tour and the inaugural ’Race to Dubai’ will feature a record 53 tournaments in 26 destinations – including at least two events being played twice.
Replacing the Order of Merit is the Race to Dubai, which begins with the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai on November 6 and ends with the $20m (€14.7m) Dubai World Championship at the Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 19-22, 2009.
The top 60 in the Race to Dubai will qualify for the Dubai World Championship, which has a prize fund of $10m (€7.3m) and a first prize of $3.6m (€2.6m).
A bonus pool of $10m (€7.3m) will also be shared by the top 15 players in the Race to Dubai after the tournament, with the winner taking away another $2m (€1.4m).
The record number of tournaments is due in part to a minimum of two events - the HSBC Champions and the UBS Hong Kong Open – each counting twice on the 2009 schedule – once in 2008 and again in 2009.
In addition there are five “new” tournaments – the Czech Golf Open, English Open, Canal+ Open, Volvo World Match Play Championship and Dubai World Championship.
From 2010, the tour will revert to a calendar-year programme starting with the South African Open at Pearl Valley in January and concluding with the Dubai World Championship in November.
That will mean Leisurecorp, the Dubai World company specialising in developments and investments in sport and with whom the European Tour have a wide-ranging partnership, hosts the start and finish of the schedule.
Leisurecorp have also bought Turnberry, which will stage the 138th Open Championship next year.
George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, said: “We are excited about the start of The Race to Dubai and the superb quality of the field for the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, with five of the top seven currently active players in the world all entered.
“The Race to Dubai will bring a new dimension to the European Tour and the partnership with Leisurecorp is central to our plans for the future.
“The 2009 European Tour International Schedule confirms how the European Tour has become ever more global in its outlook with 26 destinations now featured and the Czech Golf Open returning for the first time in 12 years.”
The Omega European Masters in Switzerland from September 3-6 will once more launch the start of the qualifying race for the Ryder Cup.