Through discussions with the players and with Leisurecorp, with whom we are partners in The Race to Dubai and The Dubai World Championship, we confirmed the importance of linking the past with the future. With golf this is especially valid because of the tradition of the game and its continuing global growth with which The European Tour is delighted to be associated.
Harry Vardon is an iconic figure whom many identify as the first touring professional and the world skyline provides an invocative image of the stage on which the players of The European Tour now compete. In bringing them together in the new branding we respect tradition and recognise the future.
Vardons vision in 1912 is interesting in that after his travels to the Continent and to the United States he found evidence of great enthusiasm for the game in other parts of the world. Vardon wrote of receiving invitations to Australia, India, South Africa and other countries and, although deeming to be so very many driver shots away that I have hesitated to leave my native teeing-ground, he pointed out that Golf is now the game of all nations as it deserves to be.
The new European Tour identity will be officially introduced at the start of The 2009 European Tour International Schedule in November when The Race to Dubai a US$10,000,000 season-long competition for the worlds leading golfers – will culminate in the Number 1 to 60 players qualifying for the US$10,000,000 Dubai World Championship.
The Dubai World Championship will be played on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, UAE, from November 19-22, 2009, at which time a player could face the prospect of standing over a putt for US$3,666,660 to capture the title, Number One position in The Race to Dubai and The Harry Vardon Trophy.
Justin Rose, the reigning European Tour Number One, said: To be Number One, to follow in the footsteps of so many great players, is an awesome feeling and it was huge for me to receive The Harry Vardon Trophy. Its like the Premiership a season long challenge that tests all your skills and demands consistency.
That was the key to me winning in 2007 with two wins and three second places. The best thing is that I did it as a champion by winning the season-ending event. It would be brilliant to do that again especially in 2009 when The Race to Dubai kicks in with The Dubai World Championship bringing it to a massive crescendo.
Padraig Harrington, Number One in 2006, said: It certainly meant a lot to me to win The Harry Vardon Trophy. Its a good marker to success in a career. I had been a professional for more than ten years and it underlined how far I had come. I had been runner-up twice so it was good to finally win it.
That took me to a new level and winning The Open Championship last year has raised the bar again. It was a great year for me personally and for The European Tour, ending with the announcement of The Race to Dubai and The Dubai World Championship. It is a great concept and looks like The European Tour have found the right formula.
Retief Goosen, Number One in 2001 and 2002, said: To be Number One in Europe is unbelievable. To have The Harry Vardon Trophy in my trophy cabinet was something very special and then to win it in successive years was a really good feeling. The Race to Dubai is going to be great for everyone we are all going to want to be the Number One in the first year that it unfolds and we will all hope to have that putt on the final green to win a possible US $3,600,000 and, of course, The Harry Vardon Trophy.
Colin Montgomerie, who was Number One a record seven times in succession from 1993 to 1999 and again in 2005, said: Winning The Harry Vardon Trophy in 2005 was very important to me. I was incredibly proud of my seven Vardon Trophies in a row but it was very special to win it again for an eighth time when it was certainly less expected of me.
Who knows whether that record will ever be beaten but nothing would give me greater pleasure than to make it even tougher by winning a ninth in the year The Race to Dubai for The Harry Vardon Trophy begins.