Ahead of the 2017 Race to Dubai finale, the European Tour has announced a series of changes that will come into effect next season.
The alterations will be in place as of next week's UBS Hong Kong Open - the start of the 2018 season - and will include:
• A return to the top 110 - not top 100 - in the Race to Dubai that will keep their cards;
• The Access List replaced by a number of alternative measures to assist pathway;
• Race to Dubai points to be converted from dollars exchange rate.
The Access List was introduced for the 2017 and was designed to help lower-ranked members (eg. Challenge Tour & Q-School graduates) by excluding money earned in Rolex Series events, WGCs, the Masters and US PGA Championship.
However, a study found that access into the events was better than anticipated - all Challenge Tour graduates got into three out of five full-field Rolex Series events - and that's expected to be as good, if not better, in 2018.
In place of the Access List, a number of alternative measures will be introduced for the 2018 season to make the pathway for ALL emerging players from the Q-School the best it can possibly be. These are:
• Q-School graduates will now be re-ranked twice. Firstly, before the BMW PGA Championship and secondly, before the French Open.
• Q-School graduates are expected to have better access in the early part of the season before these re-ranks based on a number of additional fully sanctioned events such as the NBO Oman Golf Classic, the events still to be scheduled in April and May, and the new Belgian Knockout in May.
• From the BMW International Open onwards, up to and including the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, in all regular European Tour tournaments there will be a spot held back for: ‘The Leading Player not otherwise exempt from within the top 110 of the current Race to Dubai Rankings.’
The second key change from the start of the 2018 season is that one Race to Dubai Point will now be equal to one US dollar of prize money, as opposed to one euro this year.
With 80% of the contracted prize money on the European Tour currently in dollars, the change makes administrative sense, with all those dollar prize funds now equating to the same number of Race to Dubai points.
Keith Waters, chief operating officer for the European Tour, said: “In terms of access for the Qualifying School graduates, we are hopeful that the changes we have made for 2018 will allow the most current best performing players to have increased opportunities to play in our biggest events, giving them a better chance of retaining their cards against the higher-ranked members.
“In relation to the Race to Dubai Points, with them previously being calculated weekly, this did not allow us to present to the Membership, at the beginning of the season, the full schedule of points they were actually playing for.
“We felt that needed changing from a player scheduling perspective as well as a purely competitive and level-playing field standpoint. The rounding up and down of points will also help us standardise the presentation of the European Tour International Schedule, with all points totals now set in stone from day one."