Tuesday 19 March 2019

McIlroy dilemma as Tour unveils $3m Dubai prize

Rory McIlroy, left, and his amateur partner Mark Wahlberg walk the course during the pro-am round at the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles, yesterday. Photo: Reed Saxon/AP
Rory McIlroy, left, and his amateur partner Mark Wahlberg walk the course during the pro-am round at the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles, yesterday. Photo: Reed Saxon/AP

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy will be turning up his nose at the biggest first prize in golf - a whopping $3 million - if he skips in the European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship this year.

While the Co Down man raked in $37.7 million in 2018 alone, according to Forbes' latest list of the world's richest athletes, the European Tour is hoping that its move to beef up the final three Rolex Series events may prove irresistible for Europe's marquee player.

The $3 million that the winner of the season-ending, $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai will take home in November is up significantly on the $1.33 million Danny Willett banked last year. But there's also more cash for the winners of the two Rolex Series events preceding Dubai - the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open and the $7.5 million Nedbank Golf Challenge - which offer the winners $2 million (up from $1.16m) and $2.5 million (up from $1.25m) respectively.

European Tour CEO Keith Pelley has decided to further reduce the field sizes from event to event - to 70 in Turkey, 60 in South Africa and just 50 in Dubai - to add more excitement to the Race to Dubai finale.

He's hoping that making the final trio of events more lucrative and exclusive will encourage the likes of US-based McIlroy to play two of the three in addition to his intended starts in the Omega European Masters and either the Scottish Open or (less likely) the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. The Holywood star (29) must play four events outside the Majors and World Golf Championships to keep European Tour membership and Pelley is clearly gunning for late season star power with the US Tour's FedEx Cup concluding on August 25 and the BMW PGA moving from May to September.

Meanwhile, Michael Hoey, Gavin Moynihan and Paul Dunne are playing for $1.6m in the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth as Robin Dawson and Neil O'Briain tee it up in the Sunshine Tour's Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt. On the LPGA Tour, Stephanie Meadow plays the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at Grange.

  • Genesis Open (7.0pm) and World Super 6 Perth (5.0am), Sky Sports

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