Last year, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour announced that as part of their strategic alliance, the leading ten players in the 2023 Race to Dubai, not already exempt, would earn PGA Tour cards for 2024.
Last week’s Sony Open saw a handful of the supposedly lucky ten venture to Hawaii for the opening full field event of the year on the PGA Tour. In fact, the split was 50/50 between the desert in Dubai or the sunny beaches of Hawaii.
Matthieu Pavon, Alexander Björk, Sami Valimaki, Ryo Hisatsune and Ryder Cup player Robert MacIntyre completed a modest lineup of DP World Tour graduates and the performances of the five players were mixed to say the very least.
Bjork (Sweden) and Valimaki (Finland) both missed the cut while MacIntyre (Scotland) was T52. Japanese youngster Ryo Hisatsune, 21, finished in a respectable T30, shooting four rounds in the 60s but it was Frenchman Pavon who made the most of the opportunity he carved out for himself.
Pavon put on a late surge on the DP World Tour last season to sneak one of the ten available PGA Tour cards via the Race to Dubai courtesy of his maiden tour victory at the Spanish Open.
The 31-year-old finished in the top-10 at the Andalucía Masters the following week and a T5 spot at the DP World Tour Championship punched his ticket Stateside and he continued his newfound momentum in his career with a share of seventh place in Hawaii.
Pavon pocketed a cool $260,758.33 and rose to a career-high 77th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Other PGA Tour card holders, Adrian Meronk, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen and Jorge Campillo opted to start their seasons in Dubai while Victor Perez didn’t play last week.
The American Express takes place in California this week at La Quinta Golf Club where Pavon, Bjork, MacIntyre, Valimaki and Hisatsune are in the field once again.
In truth, outside of MacIntyre this is a rather unrecognisable list of names dotted amongst a regular PGA Tour field, however, what it does is strip the DP World Tour of some quality and consistent performers.
MacIntyre, a 2023 Ryder Cupper would be a household name during the Dubai swing while Bjork enjoyed a very consistent season in Europe which put him on the fringes of Ryder Cup contention last year.
Olesen and Campillo are pencilled in to compete at next week’s Ras Al Khaimah Championship and they will join Tom McKibbin, Thriston Lawrence, Rasmus Hojgaard and Pádraig Harrington in a depleted field.