The DP World Tour has become the middle child in the world of men’s professional golf. While the seemingly never-ending brawl between the PGA Tour, LIV Golf and the Official World Golf Rankings continues, the much-maligned DP World Tour is just caught in the middle thinking ‘what about me?’
The DP World Tour often gets a raw deal but having taken a glance at the latest Race to Dubai Rankings, has this not been a good year for the tour despite all that’s going on?
The lowest ranked player in the top-5 on the Race to Dubai is New Zealand’s Ryan Fox who is third and is 23rd in the Official World Golf Rankings after picking up two wins at the Ras Al Khaimah in February and the Alfred Dunhill Links a fortnight ago.
The top-15 is littered with star quality. Rory McIlroy is leading the way with US Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick in close pursuit. Viktor Hovland and Will Zalatoris occupy the other top-5 places while Thomas Pieters (6), Shane Lowry (7), Jon Rahm (10), Tommy Fleetwood (11), Robert MacIntyre (13) and Tyrrell Hatton (15) are all perched inside the top fifteen.
That’s as good as you could hope for on the DP World Tour. We are also in the middle of the period of the season when our big European names play on the continent following the conclusion of the PGA Tour campaign.
From Wentworth on, the DP World Tour is at its best. Even though it could only be the sprinkling of two or three star names, it makes a colossal difference.
Personally, it would be fantastic to see New Zealand’s Fox win the Race to Dubai, just for the fact he has played all his golf on the DP World Tour this year.
It has been an extremely consistent season for the Kiwi who has been the best regular European Tour player. Two victories and three runner-up finishes have allowed him to set his sights on lifting the season-long title with five events to play.
“If I can keep doing that for the rest of the year, hopefully I can challenge Rory and Fitz for the title at the end of the year,” Fox says. “I’ve got to do something special to beat those guys that have had fantastic years and are top ten players in the world for a reason.”
The 35-year-old is entering into what is commonly known as a golfer’s prime although that age seems to be getting younger by the year.
The concern I have for the DP World Tour is what will it look like in the future with the top-10 on the Race to Dubai (not already exempt) earning PGA Tour cards for the following seasons.
As it stands, Europe can expect to lose Fox, Pieters, Adrien Meronk, Thriston Lawrence, Ewen Ferguson, MacIntyre, Jordan Smith and Pablo Larrazabal among others.
With all due respect, on the face of it, the absence of Meronk, Lawrence, Smith, Ferguson and Larrazabal from a DP World Tour leaderboard doesn’t signal alarm bells. But upon reflection, for your usual bog-standard event, these players are the regulars, the standout names.
Will players who have earned PGA Tour cards come back to the continent to defend titles they have won? If they don’t, that could have a detrimental effect to sponsorship deals.
On the flip side, you cannot blame the likes of Fox who is a relatively late bloomer in the game and journeymen such as Larrazabal and Smith for jumping at the chance to try and carve out a much more lucrative career Stateside.
Peter Lawrie spoke of his regret at not chancing his arm on the PGA Tour after his Spanish Open win in 2008. You gotta strike while the iron is hot (no pun intended)!
The acceptance is that the DP World Tour is a feeder tour for the PGA Tour but the concern is the calibre of player we are going to lose and is the same quality coming behind?
We’ve already seen Thomas Detry – who is without a tour win – flock to the PGA Tour with JP Fitzgerald on his bag which is a fascinating situation. MacIntyre inadvertently sabotaged his Ryder Cup hopes by chasing a PGA Tour card in 2021 while Danny Willett, Matt Wallace and Lucas Herbert have been regulars in the States recently.
Another question is are these players going to be good enough? Min Woo Lee missed the cut in all six of his PGA Tour appearances before failing to secure a card via Korn Ferry Q-School, but he is a serious talent and one of the star names on the DP World Tour.
Wallace only kept his PGA Tour card after the LIV golf suspensions saw him jump back into the top-125 while Willett hasn’t got full status and Fleetwood lost his PGA Tour card in 2021.
Coincidentally, I feel being members of the DP World Tour perhaps went against Fox and Herbert in their President’s Cup omissions, but that’s a tangent…
It’s great to see the pathway for DP World Tour players to the PGA Tour as a result of this strategic alliance but I still fear tuning into the coverage on a Thursday afternoon, scrolling through the leaderboard and thinking, ‘who?’
I understand the DP World Tour needed to do this but if you’re sending your ten best players to the States, surely this will be catastrophic for the fields? You’re going to struggle as a tour to retain sponsors if there are no big names playing. TV companies will dial down on their coverage.
It’s the same for football clubs; you can’t keep selling your best young players and hope the next crop is of equal quality. You might get away with it for a period of time but the well will eventually run dry.
But hey, at least we have the MENA Tour, eh?