The DP World Tour just made big-time changes — here are the 13 biggest
One year into its title sponsorship, the phrase “DP World Tour” still takes some getting used to. The artist formerly known as the European Tour has a long and storied history, after all, which means the rebranded circuit will take some time to enter golf’s lexicon. Even the tour’s website has one foot in the past; type in “dpworldtour.com” and you’ll get redirected to “europeantour.com”. But Thursday’s schedule announcement for the 2023 season made one thing clear: This ain’t your dad’s European Tour.
The new schedule is emphasizing the “World” in DP World Tour; its 39 events will take place across 26 countries and, counting its co-sanctioned events, five continents. By the time the circuit actually tees it up in continental Europe — in May, for the Italian Open — it will have contested nearly 20 events.
How is this year different? New tournaments. More money. Guaranteed money. Strategic alliances left and right. Some sites have vanished. Others have shifted. There’s even a miniature summer vacation! This was the DP World Tour’s first big announcement since LIV vs. the PGA Tour began occupying the entirety of the golf world’s collective consciousness. And it feels like a step forward.
Here are 13 significant changes that will (hopefully) help make sense of the new schedule.
1. They’re playing for more money.
The first four Rolex Series events of 2023 — the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Dubai Desert Classic, Genesis Scottish Open and BMW PGA Championship — will all now feature $9 million prize pots, up from $8 million a year ago, building to the $10 million season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
While LIV and the PGA Tour have engaged in an arms race featuring significantly more financial firepower than the DP World can muster, the uptick in prize money signals something important to its players and sponsors: stability. The $144 million in purses is $50 million higher than 2021, when it rebooted post-pandemic.
In the schedule release, DP World Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley pointed to the circuit’s financial standing as evidence of a successful (if much-scrutinized) alliance with the PGA Tour, citing the “strength of our partnership with the PGA Tour, who are working with us to drive revenue and a long-term growth plan.”
2. The top guys get more money, too.
An extra $6 million will be available for the leading eight players, thanks to a Rolex sponsorship. The PGA Tour has FedEx, the DP World Tour has Rolex. Players are glad for both.
The top 10 players on the money list will also earn PGA Tour cards, strengthening the connection between the circuits — although critics have claimed the relationship makes the DP World Tour essentially a “feeder tour” to the PGA Tour. But that’s the reality of the situation; the PGA Tour outpaces the DP World in money and top talent, so there’s still plenty to be gained from the relationship.
3. There’s a guaranteed money floor.
The new “Earnings Assurance Programme” mimics a similar model on the PGA Tour and guarantees that exempt players who play at least 15 events on the DP World Tour will pocket a minimum of $150,000 at the end of the season. In other words, if a player has played in 15 events and made $80,000 by the end of the season, the DP World Tour will pay an extra $70,000.
Rookies, Challenge Tour graduates and Q-School graduates can take up to $20,000 right away to fund “long-haul early season travel.” That will be an advance against future earnings. Partial members will also get $1500 on weeks they miss the cut to assist with travel costs and tournament-related expenses.
“I have always believed that it is an incredible accomplishment for any professional golfer to simply gain their playing rights on the DP World Tour and this new initiative recognizes and rewards that achievement,” Pelley said in the release.
4. There are strategic alliances everywhere.
Everywhere! While the MENA Tour earns no mention in the DP World’s release, the DP does trumpet its strategic alliances with the PGA Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tour. Life is better with friends. That gets us to the schedule, which begins with…
5. A mini Australian Swing.
Two events Down Under have been added to the DP World calendar: the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship (Nov. 24-27) at Royal Queensland in Brisbane, marking the beginning of the new season, and the ISPS Handa Australian Open (Dec. 1-4) at Kingston Heath in Melbourne. The alliance is paying dividends already!
6. Then there’s a South African Swing.
This begins in parallel with the Australian events; the Joburg Open is Nov. 24-27, too, kicking off three consecutive events in South Africa followed by the Mauritius Open. There will also be a secondary swing through the Mother Continent in March, with the Magical Kenya Open followed by two more events in South Africa.
7. The new year begins with a Ryder Cup tune-up.
That would be the Hero Cup, a new team match-play event that will kick off the 2023 calendar year for the DP World Tour and is set to take place at Abu Dhabi Golf Club Jan. 13-15.
A 10-man team from Great Britain and Ireland will take on a 10-man team from Continental Europe with the goal of blooding competitors for the Ryder Cup come September 2023. Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald will preside over the event, which will consist of three days of match-play competition.
8. Then comes an enriched Desert Swing.
The stroke-play portion of the season begins the following week at Yas Links, also in Abu Dhabi, the first of the year’s $9 million Rolex Series events. That’s followed by another $9 million Rolex Series event, the Dubai Desert Classic, before the swing wraps up at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship, by which point some of the big names will have jetted back to the PGA Tour while the DP World regulars compete for a more typical $2 million purse.
9. A brand-new Asian Swing features four new events.
Mostly new, at least. The Singapore Classic, Thailand Classic and Hero Indian Open taking us through the end of Feburary. Two more Asian events — the ISPS Handa in Japan and another event in South Korea — will take place at the end of April. In total the DP World Tour has added four new events in Asia.
10. And then there’s the classic European Summer Swing.
See what I mean when I say this isn’t just the “European Tour” anymore? We’ve made it through April without setting foot in Europe. But once you hit May the DP World has essentially six uninterrupted months of the tournaments the tour is best known for. Get ready to trek through Italy (for a Ryder Cup preview) and on to Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, England, Denmark, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Ireland and France, which will take us into the Ryder Cup back in Italy again.
11. There’s a summer break.
This is an intriguing wrinkle; there’s a three-week break after the Open Championship (which wraps July 23) before the next DP World Tour event kicks off on Aug. 17. For reference, that break lines up with the final two events of the PGA Tour’s regular season — the 3M Open and Wyndham Championship — and its first playoff event, the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
There aren’t many breaks, that’s for sure. And while future versions of the schedule — 2024 and on — are likely to have additional breaks, this current version really emphasizes the word “tour,” too. These guys will be barnstorming all over the place.
12. The Irish Open has a new slot on the schedule.
In recent years the Irish Open has bounced around the summer months, and as a result its biggest potential draw, Rory McIlroy, hasn’t always been able to participate. This year the Irish Open moves to a new slot on the schedule, Sept. 7-10, putting it two weeks after the PGA Tour wraps up its season at East Lake. While he hasn’t said anything about the new date, it certainly seems plausible that McIlroy — and other European stars including Irishmen Shane Lowry and Seamus Power — would play the Irish Open and the BMW PGA back-to-back and then have a week off before the Ryder Cup in Italy.
13. Valderrama seems…out.
This isn’t official official, but you can pretty much bet the farm that LIV has planted its flag on Valderrama’s turf and that the DP World Tour won’t be returning next October. And while the Spanish Open is in its spot on the schedule for Oct. 12-15 (making it likely that Jon Rahm, like McIlroy, will be able to play his national open) there are three open weeks after that with just “TBC” written on the DP World Tour’s schedule.
I’m not sure if TBC means “to be confirmed” or “to be continued.” Either way, that seems like the right note to end on.
The rest of the schedule’s below.
NOV. 24-27: Fortinet Australian PGA Championship, Royal Queensland GC, Brisbane, Australia
NOV. 24-27: Joburg Open, Houghton GC, Johannesburg, South Africa
DEC. 1-4: ISPS Handa Australian Open, Victoria GC & Kingston Heath GC, Melbourne, Australia
DEC. 1-4: Investec South African Open Championship, Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate, Lanseria, Johannesburg, South Africa
DEC. 8-11: Alfred Dunhill Championship, Leopard Creek CC, Malelane, South Africa
DEC. 15-18 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open Mont Choisy Le Golf, Grand Baie, Mauritius
JAN. 13-15: Hero Cup, Abu Dhabi GC, Abu Dhabi, UAE
JAN. 19-22: Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Yas Links, Abu Dhabi, UAE
JAN. 26-29: Dubai Desert Classic, Emirates GC, Dubai, UAE
FEB. 2-5: Ras Al Khaimah Championship, Al Hamra GC, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
FEB. 9-12: Singapore Classic, Laguna National Golf Resort Club, Singapore
FEB. 16-19: Thailand Classic, Amata Spring CC, Chon Buri, Bangkok, Thailand
FEB. 23-26: Hero Indian Open, TBA, India
MAR. 2-5: TBC
MAR. 9-12: Magical Kenya Open, Muthaiga GC, Nairobi, Kenya
MAR. 16-19: South African Event Confirmed, TBA, South Africa
MAR. 23-26: Jonsson Workwear Open, The Club at Steyn City, Johannesburg, South Africa
MAR. 22-26: WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play, Austin CC, Austin, TX, USA
MAR. 30-APRIL 2: NO EVENT
APRIL 6 – 9: The Masters, Augusta National GC, Augusta, GA, USA
APRIL 13-16: NO EVENT
APRIL 20-23: ISPS HANDA CHAMPIONSHIP PGM Ishioka GC, Omitama, Japan
APRIL 27-30: Korean Event Confirmed, TBA, South Korea
MAY 4-7: Italian Open, Marco Simone GC, Rome, Italy
MAY 11-14: Soudal Open, Rinkven International GC, Antwerp, Belgium
MAY 18-21: U.S. PGA Championship, Oak Hill CC, Rochester, NY, USA
MAY 25-28: Dutch Open, Bernardus Golf, Cromvoirt, The Netherlands
JUNE 1-4: Porsche European Open, Green Eagle Golf Courses, Hamburg, Germany
JUNE 8-11: Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed, Ullna G&CC, Stockholm, Sweden
JUNE 15-18: U.S. Open, Los Angeles CC, Los Angeles, CA, USA
JUNE 22-25: BMW International Open Golfclub München Eichenried, Munich, Germany
JUNE 29-JULY 2: Betfred British Masters, The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England
JULY 6-9: Made in HimmerLand, HimmerLand, Farsoe, Denmark
JULY 13-16: Genesis Scottish Open, The Renaissance Club, North Berwick, Scotland
JULY 13-16: Barbasol Championship, Keene Trace GC, Nicholasville, KY, USA
JULY 20-23: The 151st Open Championship, Royal Liverpool GC, Hoylake, England
JULY 20-23: Barracuda Championship, Tahoe Mt. Club, Truckee, CA, USA
THREE-WEEK SUMMER BREAK
AUG. 17-20: ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics, Galgorm Castle & TBC, Co Antrim, N. Ireland
AUG. 24-27: D+D Real Czech Masters, Albatross Golf Resort, Prague, Czech Republic
AUG. 31-SEPT. 3: Omega European Masters, Crans-sur-Sierre GC, Crans Montana, Switzerland
SEPT. 7-10: Horizon Irish Open, The K Club, Staffan, Kildare, Ireland
SEPT. 14-17: BMW PGA Championship, Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey, England
SEPT. 21-24: Cazoo Open de France, Le Golf National, Paris, France
SEPT 29-OCT. 1: The Ryder Cup, Marco Simone GC, Rome, Italy
OCT. 5-8: Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Old Course St Andrews, Carnoustie & Kingsbarns, Scotland
OCT. 12 – 15: acciona Open de España presented by Madrid, Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
OCT. 19-22: TBC
OCT. 26-29: TBC
NOV. 2-5: TBC
NOV. 9-12: Nedbank Golf Challenge, Gary Player CC, Sun City, South Africa
NOV. 16-19: DP World Tour Championship, Dubai Jumeirah Golf Estates, Earth Course, Dubai, UAE