In some timely good news, the European Tour has confirmed that the prize fund for next year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open will rise from €1.25million to €3million, making it one of the leading regular Tour events on next season’s schedule.
Set for a return to its summer date in July from the 1-4 at Mount Juliet, the tournament arrives the week before the JP McManus Pro-Am attracts the stars of world golf to Ireland and Irish Open organisers will no doubt hope to reap the benefits of such a double-date in the diary.
The news comes off the back of the European Tour announcing its 2021 schedule which will feature a minimum of 42 tournaments in 24 countries, as golf’s global Tour resumes a full international programme. Running from January to November, the schedule also features 18 returning tournaments which were either postponed or cancelled in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The 2021 season is headlined by a refined Rolex Series which now features the European Tour’s four premium events spread across key points in the global golfing calendar, each one enhanced by a prize fund increase, elevated Race to Dubai points and enriched media, content and broadcast coverage.
Launched in 2017, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Rolex’s enduring partnership with the European Tour, the Rolex Series highlights the Swiss watch manufacturer’s ongoing commitment to the sport at the highest level.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship (January 21-24), the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 8-11) and the BMW PGA Championship (September 9-12) will each now have a prize fund of US$8million – an increase of $1million. They will also all have 8,000 Race to Dubai points available, the same as on offer at the four World Golf Championship events.
There will also be new opportunities for all players to qualify for both the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and the BMW PGA Championship with three places now available from respective mini orders of merit based on a series of European Tour events leading up to them. Full details of these will be announced in due course.
The prize fund for the fourth and final Rolex Series event of the season – the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai – also increases by US$1million to US$9million. The European Tour season-ending finale will also continue to feature the largest winner’s cheque in the world of golf – US$3million – with, additionally, 12,000 Race to Dubai points available, some 2,000 points above those on offer at the four Major Championships. While not in a position to announce the prize funds for all 2021 tournaments at this stage, some key points are:
- Prize funds for all four UK Swing events in July / August will be increased
- The second event of the UK Swing (July 29-Aug 1) – whose details will be announced early next year – will be co-sanctioned with the LET/LPGA
- The UK Swing will have a Bonus Pool for the players in addition to a charity element
- Prize funds for the new tournaments in Tenerife and Gran Canaria in April will each be €1.5million. The Portugal Masters, which follows these two events, will also increase to €1.5million
- Prize fund for the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett will rise to €2million from €1.25million
- Prize funds for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the Italian Open will each rise to €3million, from €1.25million and €1million respectively
In addition to increased prize fund levels, the 2021 European Tour season also offers considerable playing opportunities across the 11 months with a schedule intended to reduce travelling wherever possible.
Illustrating that point, in addition to the traditional group of tournaments in the Middle East at the start of the year, the schedule also includes the return of the Iberian Swing in April and the UK Swing in July and August, which follows on from the run of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and The Open Championship. Also next to each other on the schedule are the Open de España and the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters in Spain in the first two weeks of October followed by the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco the following week.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “I am incredibly proud to announce our 2021 global schedule today, one that once again sees us journey through continents and across the world.
“With the pursuit of Ryder Cup points beginning again in January for our European members; qualification spots now available for our Rolex Series events; a sustained pursuit of innovation and a continued celebration of our wonderful heritage, it is understandable that our overarching narrative for this season is that: ‘Every Week Counts.’ There is no question that the challenge of reshaping our 2020 season in many ways informed our approach to 2021. One of the key learnings was to group events together in terms of their geographical location to create a more travel friendly season for our members. That is reflected in numerous concentrations of event locations.
“Another was to continue to enhance our Rolex Series events at strategic points in the global golfing calendar when the European Tour will be the focal point of golf on the world stage. This is one of the many aspects we will continue to develop in our Strategic Alliance discussions with the PGA Tour, following our historic partnership announcement last month.
“Our events in the initial part of the 2021 season will continue to operate under the guidelines of our world-class Health Strategy, which will evolve aligned to the latest medical advice. However, with the incredible progress that has been made in recent months in terms of a vaccine, we look forward to hopefully welcoming the gradual return of the fans we’ve so dearly missed, whilst at the same time continuing to entertain viewers at home through our unrivalled World Feed TV output and across our award-winning digital platforms.”