November 17, 2013 / 11:44 AM / 5 years ago

European Tour to review Final Series as big names miss out

DUBAI (Reuters) - The European Tour will review the qualifying rules for its Final Series after three of the circuit’s most notable golfers failed to compete in the season-ending finale in Dubai, its chief executive said on Sunday.

International team member Ernie Els of South Africa hits off the fifth tee as he plays with teammate Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe against the U.S. team of Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar during their foursome match at the 2013 Presidents Cup golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio October 5, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Keane

Struggling to keep up with its richer U.S. rival as more non-American players opt to play primarily in the United States, the European Tour introduced the four-tournament series this year, offering combined prize money of $30.5 million in a similar format to the PGA’s FedExCup.

The four Final Series events - two in Shanghai, the Turkish Airlines Open and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai - were held on successive weekends from late October and players needed to appear at two of the first three to qualify for the finale.

That led South Africans Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel and Spain’s Sergio Garcia to skip Dubai, with Els - a member of the tour for almost two decades - describing the system as “farcical”.

Schwartzel, the 2011 U.S. Masters champion, warned he was thinking about his future on the European circuit.

“These three players really want to play in Dubai - we had a rule that stopped them playing here. We are going to try to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” European Tour chief executive George O’Grady told a news conference in Dubai.

“We underestimated that amount of play that all these players are playing outside the PGA Tour and ourselves.”

O’Grady said the tour would review all rules relating to the Final Series, but did not reveal when the Tour would announce any changes or whether these would apply to the 2014 season.

He also highlighted the plight of Joost Luiten, the injured Dutch player who hit his opening tee shot at Shanghai’s BMW Masters, the first leg of the final series, before withdrawing so that he could fulfill the two-out-of-three events criteria.

“I want to bring common sense back into our rules if we can,” O’Grady added.

The DP World Tour Championship, which ends on Sunday, is the conclusion of the Race to Dubai, formerly the European Order of Merit, to decide the circuit’s top prize winner.

O’Grady also announced the Race to Dubai has been extended for four more years to 2017, with the bonus pool increased for next year to $5 million from $3.75 million at present.

Editing by John O'Brien

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