Race To Dubai Finally Gets Underway At Nelson Mandela Championship

By Les Bailey
Tim Clark
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Less than two weeks since Rory McIlroy won the DP World Championships, Dubai , and was crowned the 2012 winner,  the 2013 Race to Dubai finally got underway on Saturday morning at the Nelson Mandella Championship presented by ISPS Handa. After a two day weather delay they were able to tee it up at the Royal Durban Golf Club in Durban South Africa, and get the 2013 season started.

In 2009, the European Golf  Tour changed their year-long money rankings from the old Order of Merit system to The Race to Dubai. This was done to solve a couple of problems. It brought World Golf into the same format as the PGA Tours FedEx Cup format, and due to the world golf communities all using different currencies, utilized the Euro as the central currency to determine ranking.

Even though the final two tournaments are being played in 2102, the Nelson Mandela Championship, and the Alfred Dunhill Championship which will be played next weekend, both count for  2013 Race To Dubai points. Because of opposite seasons South of the equator, most of the early tournaments are contested in Africa. The first tournament in the race that reaches the Northern Hemisphere is the WGC Accenture Match Play Championships which is played in Arizona.

The other tournaments located in the United States that are involved in the Race to Dubai, are the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral in March, The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and the three major championships, The Masters, The US Open, and The PGA Championship. The remainder are played on different continents, and different countries.

Rory McIlroy won the 2012 Race to Dubai Championship, with Lee Westwood winning the innagural event in 2009. Martin Kaymer won in 2010 , and of course, Luke Donald last year.

For many years, the European Tour was the only path for most International players to gain enough status to eventually migrate to the PGA Tour. Now a player can gain status through all of the world tours, and have access to the Race To Dubai. It is a great concept that works on a world wide basis.

With the downturn in the Western Economies, and the Eastern countries starting to flourish, I think Professional golf is headed to a world organization. With China beginning to build more golf courses, and getting involved in the golfing community, the turn toward a global system is inevitable.

The biggest decision on the planet that is keeping the PGA from beginning the migration, was Tiger Woods deciding not to join the European Tour for the upcoming season. Unless we develop superstars that can compete with McIlroy, McDowell, and the rest of the European contingent, the changes will come. It is already happening on the LPGA Tour, and the factor driving the change is America’s lack of superstars at the top.

I would personally like to see the PGA Tour gain status in the Race To Dubai, and let us compete. Convert a players winnings to Euros, and plug it in. Sounds simple to me.

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