As we approach the end of the 2023 calendar year, it is an opportunity for us to reflect on another remarkable season on the DP World Tour and also welcome some exciting changes for the year ahead.
In terms of the former, Ryder Cup player Nicolai Højgaard’s dramatic victory in our recent DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates provided another fitting finale to the Race to Dubai, bringing down the curtain on a season that spanned 12 months and featured 46 tournaments in 24 different countries, with more than 1.7 million shots from our members.
There were many highlights along the way, from Jon Rahm becoming the fourth Spaniard to win the Masters Tournament in April to Rory McIlroy winning two Rolex Series titles en route to claiming a fifth Race to Dubai crown, and, of course, a hugely impressive victory for Team Europe in the Ryder Cup in Rome.
The 2023 season also heralded the emergence of many new stars, with 17 first time winners in total. That list included 21 year old Ryo Hisatsune, the Cazoo Open de France winner who became the first Japanese recipient of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, and Sweden’s Ludvig Åberg, who only turned professional in June and three months later was part of Luke Donald’s victorious Ryder Cup team in Italy, having won the final qualifying event, the Omega European Masters in Switzerland.
In addition to his breakthrough victory in France, Ryo recorded a further seven top finishes and ended the season in 17th position in the Race to Dubai to claim the tenth and final available PGA TOUR card for 2024. He will now look to continue his development as a global talent, joining Adrian Meronk, Ryan Fox, Victor Perez, Thorbjørn Olesen, Alexander Björk, Sami Välimäki Robert MacIntyre, Matthieu Pavon and Jorge Campillo in earning dual membership via our Race to Dubai Rankings.
The ten cards were a new initiative we brought in at the start of the 2023 season as part of our overall strategy to provide global pathways for international players, and it was particularly pleasing to see nine different nationalities represented: Poland, New Zealand, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Scotland, Spain and Japan.
Golf has increasingly become a global sport since our Tour’s inception in 1972 and the diversity of this representation, combined with the fact we visited 24 different countries this past season, undoubtedly emphasises that.
In our Tour’s first season 51 years ago, we had 21 events between April and October, the majority of which – 13 – were played in the UK and Ireland, with a total prize fund for the year of €373,615.
In 2024, our members will compete for a record overall prize fund of $148.5million and our prize funds are guaranteed to increase until at least 2027 because of our own commercial success and our Strategic Alliance with the PGA TOUR, both of which are part of our sustainable strategy of growth.
Furthermore, changes to the structure of our new season will help us reach new markets and continue to showcase a diversity of cultures, with the 2024 campaign split into three distinct phases: the five Global Swings, the Back 9 and the DP World Tour Play-Offs.
The Global Swings – the Opening Swing, International Swing, Asian Swing, European Swing and Closing Swing – take place between November and the end of August. This first phase of the season includes new Bonus Pools and qualification routes into Rolex Series events and the Back 9, which takes place from September to October, following the conclusion of the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Play-Offs.
That gives us an opportunity to further bolster the strength of our fields in that autumn period, and if this year is anything to go by, it will have a strong appeal to fans watching both in person at events and via our world feed broadcast.
For six consecutive weeks at the conclusion of our 2023 Race to Dubai, we recorded an increase in television ratings via our main broadcast partner, Sky Sports, in the UK and Ireland.
That also reflected a wider trend we witnessed across the entire season. Out of 25 repeat events from 2022 to 2023, 20 of them saw a live average viewership increase by an average of more than 70%.
These are incredibly positive statistics which illustrate once again not just how impressively we emerged from the global pandemic, but also how much our Tour is currently thriving.
Since 1972, we have constantly evolved. We have brought in a number of changes for the 2024 season and if further change occurs within the global game, we will be ready to seize whatever opportunities that presents, just as we have done over the past 51 years.