“Money is a touchy subject at present, particularly for those running the European Tour. With the Race to Dubai entering the final stretch, players are looking towards the mega-bucks on offer at the Dubai World Championship, in November, and wondering if the amount they had been promised at the start of the year is going to be there after all.
“The deal - originally with Leisurecorp, but now with Nakheel, its parent company - was to provide a stash of $20 million in each of the next five years. Half of it would make up the prize fund for the season-ending tournament, open to the leading 60 players in what was once known as the Order of Merit, with the other $10 million being shared out as bonuses between the top 15 players in the overall standings.
“The figures are eye-watering. But with the property crash in Dubai, Nakheel, a government-owned development company, is suddenly strapped for cash. There has been speculation that the amount on offer this year is to be reduced by anything up to 25 per cent, something that George O’Grady, the tour’s chief executive, does not deny. More important, though, will be keeping the show on the road even if prize funds have to be reduced.
“The tour has massively rebranded itself this year and will be working hard to keep hold of its partners in Dubai. In jest people within the game are asking if there will even be a Race to Dubai after this year? It would seem that urgent meetings are being held between the tour and Nakheel right now, suggesting that things are afoot. Expect an announcement some time soon.”