The European Tour has signed a new three-year deal with the organisers of the Dubai World Championship that will see prize money at the season-ending event rise from $7.5m to $8m.
Media reports had hinted the event would move to Abu Dhabi when Dubai’s contract ended in 2012 but tour CEO George O’Grady said the city would remain on the schedule.
“We are going to continue with the championship here for three more years and The Race to Dubai for three more years,” he said. “The title will change slightly; it will be the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. The prize money next year will be $8m in the first year.”
O’Grady said the European Tour had yet to release details of the bonus pool or the prize money for the second and third year of the contract, and remained in talks with potential sponsors.
“We are announcing it as we feel comfortable. We will be $8m next year; we might be $8m all the way through,” he said. “We are talking to many different partners, and it's [the bonus pool] a second part of the agreement. It’s not completely finalised, yet. We have two other partners we are thinking of bringing on board… we are not there yet.”
Dubai World reached an agreement with creditors on about $25bn of liabilities in March after roiling global markets in 2009 by seeking to delay payments.
DP World, the world’s third-largest port operator, remains one of the conglomerate’s most profitable assets.
Dubai, famous for his luxury hotels, has spent billions of dollars on sports facilities that host a number of international events including the Dubai Desert Classic and the Dubai World Cup. The Gulf emirate in July said it would likely bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games after deciding it would better timed than a pitch for the earlier 2020 games.
Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Beach Golf Club last year said it aimed to snatch the staging of the tournament away from Dubai and rename it the Road to Abu Dhabi from 2012.
General manager Ray Manulat said he was confident he could convince the tour’s authorities to move the event to Saadiyat Island, which features a Gary Player-designed championship course.
“I think the economic realities in Dubai might make it impossible to keep staging the Race at Jumeirah [Golf Estates],” said Manulat.
“If that's the case we would definitely be interested in taking over. Abu Dhabi is fast becoming one of the sporting capitals of the world: we have the Formula 1, Ferrari World and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, so why not bring the Race to Dubai here too?”
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