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European Tour set to unveil biggest ever commercial partnership


Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, with Rory McIlroy. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, with Rory McIlroy. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, with Rory McIlroy. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The European Tour is poised to announce a brave new dawn today when it reveals details of a huge deal with Dubai-based DP World.

CEO Keith Pelley will host a press conference at EXPO 2020 in Dubai this morning, and the Irish Independent understands that it will be a game-changer for the tour.

DP World is one of the world’s biggest logistics companies with port operations in over 40 countries. It is owned by the government of Dubai and had total assets of $26.51 billion (€22.87bn) in 2018. The company first became involved with the European Tour in 2009 when the Order of Merit was replaced by the Race to Dubai, culminating in what is now the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

The new deal is believed to be the European Tour’s biggest ever commercial deal and comes a year after it formed a Strategic Alliance with the PGA Tour and three months after the announcement that the Genesis Scottish Open, the Barbasol Championship and Barracuda Championship will be included in both the FedExCup and Race to Dubai in 2022.

A spin-off from the Alliance has led to the Irish Open prize fund ballooning from €3 million this year to $6m (€5.17m) in 2022.

Key dates on the 2022 schedule will be revealed today with the Irish Open expected to be staged at Mount Juliet from July 7-10, just days after the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor (July 4-5).

The deal comes at a time of flux in the world of professional golf with rivals to the status quo emerging in the Saudi Golf League (SGL), now working under the name LIV Golf Investments with Greg Norman as its frontman, and the Premier Golf League (PGL).

It’s a good time to be a top player and West Waterford’s Seamus Power is a man on the rise after moving to a career-high of 89th in the world following his tie for 11th in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba  his 10th top-25 finish this year.

Power, who joins Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell in this week’s Houston Open, is 36th in the FedExCup standings.

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On the European Tour, 59th-ranked Pádraig Harrington and 98th-ranked Jonathan Caldwell play the AVIV Dubai Championship looking to make the top 50 who contest next week’s Dubai finale.

Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin will miss out on the chance to keep full European Tour playing rights in Dubai after testing positive for Covid-19.

Sharvin missed the cut in the Portugal Masters and must remain in quarantine there until Saturday, meaning he misses the final counting AVIV Dubai Championship.

Ranked 167th in the Race to Dubai, he cannot now make the top 122 who keep full playing rights but will have status in 2022 thanks to the Tour’s new Safety Net structure. He will be re-ranked based on his 2021 Race to Dubai position but won’t be relegated downward within the category system.

Elsewhere, Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow play the LPGA’s Pelican Women’s Championship in Florida from Thursday. Maguire is 16th in the Race to CME Globe Points list ahead of next week’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, while 101st -ranked Meadow must break into the top 100 to keep her card.