05 Mar 2022

Tom Phillips: Exciting times ahead for the DP World Tour

When the European Tour group announced last November that DP World would become title partner of our main Tour, it represented a seminal moment not just in the 50 year history of our Tour, but also in our enduring relationship with the Middle East.

From the first Dubai Desert Classic back in 1989, golf in this region has come a long way and the Tour is proud to have helped affect much of this progress. Yet, as proud as we are of the past, we are equally as excited about what the future holds for us.

In our launch event for the DP World Tour at EXPO 2020, both DP World and the Tour outlined our joint commitment to elevating our Tour in every way, growing the game of golf globally and driving positive community impact.

Just four months into this new era, we have already made significant progress on pledges made in each of those three areas, despite the initial disruption to our South African swing caused by the emergence of the Omicron variant in late November.

For the first time, we started the calendar year with back-to- back Rolex Series events, with the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic joining the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in our premium category of event as the world’s best players once again graced our traditional ‘Desert Swing’.

Both tournaments offered incredible drama, enthralling finishes and ultimately victories for Ryder Cup players, with Belgian Thomas Pieters finishing one shot clear of the field in our first visit to Yas Links in Abu Dhabi, and Norway’s Viktor Hovland defeating Richard Bland in a play-off at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.

Following those two Rolex Series events, we then visited Ras Al Khaimah for the first time, playing consecutive US$2million tournaments at Al Hamra Golf Club, with a fun and innovative team scramble event – the Hero Challenge – sandwiched in between for good measure.

With the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters rescheduled for the end of March and, of course, our season-ending DP World Tour Championship on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November, it means six of our 44 events in 2022 will take place in the Middle East, underlining its importance for the Tour and indeed our own contribution to the region’s burgeoning status as a sporting hub.

By bringing golf’s leading stars to the Middle East and showcasing our tournaments on a global stage, we hope the DP World Tour can help advance golf at all levels in this region. We were therefore delighted when, in the Ras Al Khaimah Classic – the second of our two events at Al Hamra, Shergo Al Kurdi of Jordan became the first Arab golfer to make the cut in one of our tournaments, posting three rounds of 68 alongside a third round 74 to finish in a share of 33rd position.

At just 19, we look forward to observing Shergo’s progress in the years ahead, as well as the many other future prospects coming through from this region. The ambition is that one day, an Arab player will become a winner on the DP World Tour, but if we are to achieve that goal, providing pathways are essential.

That is why, as part of the DP World Tour launch, we announced an enhanced commitment to grassroots golf. We want to provide opportunities for players such as Shergo and Ahmad Skaik, the UAE’s Number One player and a product of the Emirates Golf Federation’s junior golf development programme, to take up our sport and go on to test themselves against talent from elsewhere in the world.

Last month, we also announced the launch of the G4D Tour, providing Golfers of Determination with a minimum of seven tournaments this year alongside our DP World Tour events, culminating in the G4D Tour finale in Dubai. At the DP World Tour, it is our strong belief that golf is the most inclusive sport of all, because the handicap system enables anyone from any background to play against someone else, and the G4D Tour most certainly illustrates that.

As golf administrators we have a responsibility to ensure that we open the door of opportunity to everyone, not close it or focus simply on the present. Our game is for the many, not the few and although the era of the DP World Tour is still in its early stages, we are already making a real difference in the Middle East region which longer term could even eclipse the considerable collective achievements of the past 33 years.

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