There has been much to talk about in golf lately. From the European Tour increasing their prize money and a shakeup of the Race to Dubai to Phil Mickelson taking yet another PGA Tour win and the countdown to The Open starting in Northern Ireland.
European Tour prize money increased
The Prize Money available for the final events leading up to the Race to Dubai has increased, after some lukewarm finishing events last year.
One of the biggest prizes in golf now is the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. The winner of the event from now will take home a share of the prize fund worth $3 Million. Not only is this a larger prize than the one at any Major or PGA Tour event, but it totals a whopping $1.67 Million more than last year’s winner Danny Willett was paid for his victory.
Willett finished 20th in the rankings at the end of the Race to Dubai, taking €1.3 Million to the bank – mostly down to his winning in the Dubai event. The winner of the tour was Francesco Molinari, who also took his first Major victory on the tour, taking the win at The Open, beating the likes of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods to lift the Claret Jug.
The two events which precede the Dubai Championship – the Nedbank Challenge and the Turkish Airlines Open – also see big increases in the winners’ takings. In the Nedbank, the champion of the event will be taking back $2.5 Million, doubling the prize fund from last year, and the Turkish Airlines Open sees an almost doubling, taking this year’s winner’s slice of the pie to $2 Million up from $1.16 Million last year.
There is also a change in the Race to Dubai itself. The Race features bonus money, which is paid out to the leaders at the end, and until this year distributed the funds between the top ten performing players on the European Tour. However, in 2019, the Tour will only give out the cash rewards to the five best players: first place taking home the lion’s share at $2 Million, second place $1.2 million, third place taking $700,000, fourth $600,000 and lastly fifth receiving a bonus of $500,000.
The changes are being implemented to shake up the events at the end of the Race to Dubai. The Tour organisers faced criticism last year for slow-paced and unexciting golf which featured and underwhelming line up. Top-loading the prize funds towards the end of the event should shake things up in a few ways. Not only will it attract more existing top golfing talent and up-and-coming golfers seeking to make a name for themselves – and a nice bonus while they’re at it – but it is also designed to add more intrigue to the event.
By increasing the importance of the last few events of the Race, the organisers hope they will be more competitive as players who have a chance of finishing in a top place will have to compete under pressure and intense competition at these final events to do so.
Phil Mickelson wins at Pebble Beach
‘Lefty’ Phil Mickelson has done it again, proving that age is just a number, and so is first place. The Californian picked up first place at Pebble Beach, his 44th PGA Tour win of his career, which comes just a couple of months ahead of his 49th Birthday. On this birthday, Mickelson hopes to compete again on Pebble Beach as it’s the day that the US Open is set to wrap up this year. This is his fifth win at the links course – perhaps the most well-known in North America.
The US Open is the only Major Phil Mickelson has failed to attain in his career which has spanned for well over two decades. He picked up major championship wins three times at The Masters (2004, 2006, 2010), and once at The Open (2013) and at the PGA Championship (2005).
Heading into the twilight of his career, Mickelson seems to be still making adjustments to his game, and in some ways might be improving. One thing noticed by many fans watching this Pebble Beach performance are the straight three line’s Phil has had printed on his balls.
The lines are printed on the one side of the ball and were meticulously angled towards the hole as Phil took aim on tee shots. The theory seems to be that having a point of reference as to where he is aiming while looking at the ball will improve his off-the-tee accuracy and actually it seem to be working. While correlation is definitely not causation, Phil was dead straight on the fairway and this was a major part of him taking home the famous AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am crystal glass trophy.
Tiger Woods’s Genesis Open to receive ‘invitational’ status in 2020
Tiger Wood’s event, previously known as the LA Open, is set to receive PGA Invitational status in 2020 – giving the event a huge platform to improve on. The Big Cat took the event under his wings in 2016, and quickly helped it advance from a fairly minor occasion to an event everyone is looking forward to annually. The event, held at Tiger’s home club Riviera Country Club will have its field reduced from 144 to 120 players and the winners will receive a whole host of benefits, such as a higher purse and a three-year exemption from the tour.
Woods himself has never won an event at the course, having competed there unsuccessfully 11 times. However, having won every major, including The Open (in 2000, 2005 and 2006) and The Masters Tournament (in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005).
Countdown to Portrush Starts in Style
The Open is due to be held at Royal Portrush Golf Club this year, and just days ago we saw the countdown start to kick off to much fanfare. An event in Belfast, the Northern Irish capital just 60 miles from the town of Portrush, featured a list of British and Irish sports stars, in particular golfers.
The Open has not visited Northern Ireland in 70 years, and the return seems to be welcome, with the R&A announcing that the standard entry tickets are now sold out. A promising sign early on for the already popular event, and one that the return over the Irish Sea is not only welcome but highly regarded.
One of golf’s most recognisable voices Peter Alliss spoke at the event, alongside champion jockey AP McCoy. The R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers spoke too, talking of the huge popularity of the event, with over 200,000 people expected to delve on Portrush, and the 600 million expected to watch on television screens worldwide.