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European Tour rebrands as DP World Tour with Irish Open ‘a critical market’


Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

The European Tour has pulled off a massive financial coup that will see it rebrand as the DP World Tour next season with the Irish Open "at the forefront of our thinking" for years to come as part of the Strategic Alliance with the PGA Tour.

The rebranding exercise, which will be seen as a direct response to the threat posed by Saudi Arabia's bid to form a world tour, will see the circuit's total prize money top $200m for the first time.

"This is hugely significant and a very exciting day for everyone on the DP World Tour," said European Tour Group chief executive Keith Pelley, who would not reveal the financial details or the duration of a deal believed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five to 10 years.

With 24 of the 47 events on the Tour's 2022 schedule taking place outside Europe, Pelley said the Tour's name had become "a misnomer".

"We're definitely a world tour," he said before asking that he be allowed to postpone all comment on the proposed breakaway world tour backed by Saudi money until next week's DP World Tour Championship.

Overall prize funds in 2022 will be more than US$140 million for all tournaments outside the Majors and World Golf Championships, outstripping the previous all-time pre-pandemic high of US$130 million in 2019.

Including the Majors and WGCs, the total prize fund on the 2022 DP World Tour will exceed US$200 million, benefitting all tournaments and all members across all categories with Challenge Tour prize funds to climb significantly.

The Irish Open will have a US$6 million (€5.1 million) prize fund next season — an increase of more than €2 million — as it returns to Mount Juliet Estate in Co Kilkenny from June 30 to July 3, the week before the PGA Tour co-sanctioned Genesis Scottish Open and two weeks before the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews.

The JP McManus Pro-Am will take place at 2027 Ryder Cup venue Adare Manor on the Monday and Tuesday after the Irish Open, July 4-5, which may encourage some of the world stars expected to travel to Limerick to come early and tee it up at Mount Juliet.

No title sponsor has been announced for the Irish Open. However, Pelley stressed that the Tour is still in talks with Dubai Duty Free, who have sponsored the event since 2015.

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"Dubai Duty Free has been a wonderful partner for us and we are still having discussions with them," Pelley said.

"We are confident that the Irish Open will have a partner going forward. And we are also very, very confident that the Irish Open will be an integral part of the European Tour on the DP World Tour schedule for many years to come.

"It's a critical market for us with great golf courses and great history and a great leading player in Rory McIlroy, so you can rest assured that in all of our discussions we are having with the PGA Tour, that the Irish Open is at the forefront of our thinking."

While nothing has yet been decided, there are strong indications that the Irish Open will be co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour in the near future with venues such as The K Club very keen to stage a major European Tour event again.

It's likely that stagings of the event will alternate between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland from 2023.

Dubai-based global logistics company DP World has sponsored the Tour's season-ending event since 2009.

"This is a natural evolution of our partnership, which we've enjoyed for more than a decade," said European Tour Group chairman David Williams.

"The DP World Tour will be groundbreaking in its scope. It's a significant deal in terms of global sports sponsorship. We're stronger together, and the European Tour is proud to be associated with such a prestigious partner."

Williams said the benefits of the deal were "not just financial". He added: "As important to both parties is our shared desire to elevate the Tour and grow the game globally.

"Retitling the main Tour was not a decision we took lightly. But DP World is special, and I say this again with no apology."

The European Tour will remain the overall brand name for the Tour group.