* Return to top 110 players retaining their cards at the end of the 2018 season
* Access List replaced by a range of alternative measures to assist pathway
* All 2018 Race to Dubai points to be converted from a dollar exchange rate
Acting on decisions taken by the Tournament Committee, the European Tour today announces some key changes for the 2018 season and beyond.
The main change is a return to the top 110 players retaining their cards on the Race to Dubai Rankings at the end of the 2018 season, as opposed to the top 100 this year.
This takes into account the discontinuation of the Access List in 2018, a ranking which was designed to help lower ranked members. It ran concurrently with the Race to Dubai this year but excluded earnings from the Rolex Series events, the World Golf Championship events, the Masters and the US PGA Championship.
The move has come following a study of statistics which has shown that access into the Rolex Series events for the Challenge Tour graduates and the graduates at the top end of the Qualifying School was actually better than anticipated in 2017.
With the Italian Open becoming a full field event next season, due to the switch of date from October to June, and with some otherwise allocated spots now returning to the Exemption Category system, this access is expected to be at least as good if not better in 2018. In summary:
i) In 2017 ALL
Challenge Tour graduates got into 3 out of 5 of the full field Rolex Series with this expected to rise to 4, possibly 5 out of 5, in 2018.
ii) The top 6 graduates from the Qualifying School got into 3 out of 5 of the full field Rolex Series in 2017 with similar if not better levels of access expected 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 Qualifying School the best it can possibly be. These are:
i) Qualifying School graduates will now be re-ranked twice in 2018; firstly before the BMW PGA Championship / Italian Open Rolex Series double header in May and secondly before the run of three Rolex Series events in a row in June – the HNA Open de France, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.
ii) Qualifying 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.
iii) 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.
The rate to convert all non-dollar prize money into Race to Dubai points has been set as of Monday November 13, 2017, the Monday before the first week of the 2018 season.
The fact that the Race to Dubai Points are no longer directly linked to ‘Official Money’ has also allowed all points totals for the entire season to be rounded up or down to the nearest 25,000 for presentation purposes.
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.
“Official Money won still exists for players’ individual tournament and career records and will still drive their position on the Career Money List as well as being converted to points on the European Ryder Cup Points table. Prize funds will be converted into Official Money for this purpose on the Friday of each tournament week.
“But there will be no Official Money list for other ranking purposes. The only list which will count in determining season and individual tournament exemptions will be the Race to Dubai Rankings.”