On paper, it probably seemed like one of the best ideas in the short but so far unspectacular history of the Race To Dubai.
Introduce a new four-tournament ‘Final Series’, with a condition that you have to play at least two out of the first three tournaments to be eligible for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
The people at the European Tour no doubt dreamt that one up and gave each other many slaps on the back. The Race To Dubai is saved, gents. Good show.
However, they must have been slapping their heads last week when a (fairly obvious) drawback of that condition was exposed by Joost Luiten.
The Dutchman turned up for the BMW Masters in China harbouring a shoulder injury. It was severe enough that, under normal circumstances, he probably would have withdrawn before the tournament.
But wait a minute. If he doesn’t play, isn’t that going to jeopardise his chances of playing in the lucrative Race To Dubai finale next month?
Joost clearly thought it might and so he flew to China, hit one shot – 120 yards down the middle, apparently – and promptly withdrew.
It was a clearly premeditated move and one which was enormously harsh on the first reserve, Justin Walters.
But it’s hardly Joost’s fault that the loophole is there and so he was well within his rights – particularly with so much Race To Dubai money and Ryder Cup ranking points up for grabs – to exploit it.
Some were quick to round on the Dutchman but his fellow players leapt to his defence, Walters amongst them.
It’s hardly Joost’s fault the loophole is there and so he was well within his rights – particularly with so much Race To Dubai money and Ryder Cup ranking points up for grabs
The South African wrote on Twitter: “No hard feelings towards Joost Luiten he came and spoke to me about the situation.”
Luke Donald also tweeted: “Can't blame Joost - new rule forced his hand. If that rule wasn't in effect then Joost would have withdrawn prior to event and first reserve would have got to play.”
This is the only fact that matters. Never mind Luiten’s purported selfishness. The fact was that he was allowed to be by a major gap in the rules that made his morally dubious move legislatively allowable.
This is the kind of PR blunder that the European Tour could ill-afford. Over the last few years, it has lost major ground to the PGA Tour on most fronts: sponsorship, depth of fields, tournament profiles and so on.
The Final Series was meant to be its clear as crystal version of the PGA Tour’s inscrutable but successful FedExCup Playoffs.
No doubt there will be revisions to the requirements for competing in the Race To Dubai's Final Series but this is an embarrassing blow to the tour at the tail-end of another difficult year.
What are your thoughts on the Race To Dubai?
Are you a fan of the Race To Dubai? Do you think it has improved the European Tour since it introduced? What about Luiten: was he right or wrong to do what he did last week? Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.